Bread – Drilling

April 20, 2016

Psalm 16

“Preserve me, O God, for in You I take refuge.  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You.”  Ps. 16:1-2

We often hear the word “drilling” in the context of mineral exploration, particularly of oil and gas.  It may, of course, also refer to the process of making a hole in a solid object.  The purpose of drilling seems to always be the process of breaking through a hard surface to get to the treasure underneath.  In the case of oil and gas drilling, it is piercing the earth to get to the oil.  In the case of drilling a hole, it is penetrating the wood or the metal or the plastic to get to the air underneath.

We lose so much in Scripture because we treat the translation as the hard surface, and read and rest there.  And yet, much of the power of Scripture lies beneath the hard surface, lies beneath the translation, and can only be extracted by the work of drilling through the hard surface to get to the real treasure.  But to do effective drilling, we have to be confident, have faith, that there is something beneath the surface of Scripture which is worth going after, worth drilling for.  And, quite frankly, that is a lot of work and, most of the time, I am too lazy to do it, if I even think about it.

For example, in today’s reading, on the hard surface of translated Scripture, I focused purely on the “refuge” and “no good apart” phrases and was ready to write about how, with belief in God, we have refuge and can overcome our sin nature to be able to demonstrate God’s goodness in the world, knowing that there is no good apart from Him.  And that would have been a good Bread, but I would have missed the whole point.

Fortunate for me, I also read a commentary, to give me a different perspective, and it was in that commentary that I learned something.

See, the English translation into our Bible of “God” and “Lord” fail to fully reflect the names of God actually being used in the Hebrew or Greek.

So, drilling through, I find that substituting the names of God into the translation results in this:  “Preserve me, O El, for in You I take refuge.  I say to Jehovah, ‘You are my Adonai; I have no good apart from You.’”

In the word for God “El,” there is the meaning of “strong one,” or what we might say “God Almighty.”  If God is all mighty, then He is the strong refuge, the strong sanctuary, where we may find peace, rest, and protection.  For in You, the Strong God, I take refuge makes all the sense in the world.  Furthermore, it refutes the idea of God as a disconnected, soft and “fluffy” God which dallies in the affairs of man but does not rule them.  God the Almighty rules and He is a strong fortress.  All this is discovered by drilling into the Word.

In the word for God “Jehovah,” there is a reference to the God of Moses, to the great “I Am.”  It is the I AM who made the covenant first, with the nation of Israel, and second with the Church, with us.  In a covenant relationship, we inherit the power, benefits, and blessings of the relationship.  The fact that, by the power and grace of God, we receive and can rely upon the promises of God.  The “apart from You” is an acknowledgment that we cannot survive without attachment to the True Vine, without being in relationship with Jesus Christ, without accepting the relationship which He offers to us.  God the great “I Am” has a relationship with us because of His doing and not ours, because of His power and not ours, because of the trueness of His promises and not ours.  Therefore, we have nothing of eternal worth “apart from You.”  All this is discovered by drilling into the Word.

In the word of God “Adonai,” there is the concept of God as my Master, as the Master.  Here there is the concept of God as King on earth as well as in heaven.  It is to the King, to Adonai, that we pledge our discipleship and our obedience because He is the Master of our lives.  All this is discovered by drilling into the Word.

So, let me paraphrase our reading today this way – “Preserve me, God Almighty, because in you I am saved.  I say to the great I AM, who has adopted me in a covenant which cannot be broken, ‘You are my Master and King; I have no good apart from what Your covenant relationship with me gives me.”

Isn’t that rich?  Isn’t that powerful?

And it is all laying just beneath the surface … but we need to be drilling into the Word to get to it.

There are three ways to read Scripture.  One is to read the highlights and, from that, you can discern the greatest story ever told, but the details are vague.  Another is to read the words (which takes a little longer), and from that you can learn what it means to be a disciple and many details about the story.  The details are sharp, the duty is clear, but there is something missing.  The third way is to drill into the Word, to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the richness beneath the surface (which takes a little longer), and from that you can begin to enjoy the relationship you have with God by virtue of His grace.  You might think of this as “top of mind” reading, “rational” mind reading, and deep heart reading.

Do you feel your relationship with God is weak, ineffective, and unsatisfying?  Perhaps it is because you need to drill more and scan less.


© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.



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