Do you love other Christians? Do you find it good and rewarding to be with them? Do you seek their company?
August 16, Using words differently from ordinary prose is the poet's way of trying Whole books of the Bible are poetic: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Beyond these predominantly poetic parts of the Bible, figurative. (Psa ) The folly of idolatry and the blessing of honoring the LORD. . other more doubtful words about the life beyond (such as in Psalm and ).
This is a simple test. Those who love the Lord will love the company of those who also love him. Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god: David understood that those who served other gods found many sorrows in life. David knew that his life, lived after God, was not an easy one.
He experienced many hardships because he remained faithful to God. Nevertheless, he also knew that life lived after another god was even more difficult. It was the attitude of Peter in John 6: There could hardly be a more ominous allusion to what follows from apostasy. Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer: David allowed his knowledge of the futility of pagan beliefs to effect his behavior. Therefore, he would not follow the pagans in their vain practices.
After stating that there was nothing found in the pagan gods, David explained the good he received from Yahweh. You are the portion of my inheritance: David was the youngest son in a family with many sons. He could expect no inheritance from his family; yet he took joy and comfort in the fact that God was the portion of his inheritance , and he knew that he had a good inheritance.
The lines that marked out his inheritance had fallen to him in pleasant places. God said to the priests in the days of Moses: David understood that this was a promise given not only to the priests, but also to all who would trust God to be the portion of their inheritance. Like them he is landless, and instead of estates had Jehovah. You maintain my lot: This described the portion of David's inheritance. David was confident that God would maintain what He had first given to him.
This attitude did not come easily or always to David. He complained to Saul in 1 Samuel David's words here speak of contentment. He is content with what God has given him. A mark of our age - especially with the Baby Boom generation and perhaps even more with those following - is discontentment, boredom, and restlessness. A generation with short attention spans, the constant need for excitement and adrenaline rushes, and hour a day entertainment needs to know by experience what David knew.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel: When David needed guidance, God gave it to him, and therefore David praised God. My heart also instructs me in the night seasons: This was because David's heart was instructed first by God and His Word, and therefore could also instruct him in the ways of God. This is an example of the benefits that come from the transformation of thinking spoken of in Romans The Psalms also know that it can be vain to stay up late to try and figure your problems Psalm Yet David knew the joy of communing with God in the night seasons and receiving guidance from Him.
I have set the LORD always before me: This speaks of a decision David made to put God first in his life. He determined that God would always be his focus, his perspective. In the ultimate sense, only Jesus did this perfectly. He was always in the intimate presence of His Father. God is only our in reality when we are conscious of His nearness, and that is strange love of Him which is content to pass days without ever setting Him before itself.
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved: This was the plain result of David's decision to put God first. There was a standing and security in David's life that would not have otherwise existed. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: This decision brought a gladness and a glory to David's life. For those who do not live out a true commitment to God, it is easy for them to think of what such a commitment costs them.
This is not entirely bad, because this kind of decision to set the LORD always before one's self does have a cost, and the cost should be counted and appreciated. It may cost certain pleasures, popularity, anonymity, family relationships, life goals, career choices, financial priorities, and so forth. Yet David also tells us some of the benefits of such a life decision: There was happiness and a glory David knew by this life commitment that he would not have known otherwise.
David could maturely understand both the costs and the benefits, and sing a song of praise about his life decision. My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol: David described a further benefit of his life decision to set the LORD always before him. It was the confidence of God's care and blessing in the life beyond. David had the settled hope a confidence, not a simple wish , that God would not leave his soul in the grave Sheol , but that his life would continue on in the presence of God. This statement is a wonderful declaration of trust in some sort of resurrection and afterlife.
Yet the Psalms contain both such confident statements and other more doubtful words about the life beyond such as in Psalm 6: This cloudy understanding of the afterlife in the Old Testament does not surprise the reader of the New Testament, who knows that Jesus Christ brought life and immortality to light 2 Timothy 1: Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption: Wonderfully and perhaps unknowingly , David spoke beyond himself. In one sense David was indeed the Holy One of God, whose soul would not be left in the grave.
Yet in a greater and more literal sense, only Jesus Christ fulfills this in His resurrection. This was perceived by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, who said that these words went beyond David who was obviously dead, buried in a grave, and whose body had long ago decayed into dust Acts 2: In quoting and applying this passage from Psalm 16 to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, Peter showed a remarkably sophisticated understanding of the work of Jesus on the cross.
He understood that because Jesus bore our sin without becoming a sinner, He remained the Holy One , even in His death. Since it is incomprehensible that God's Holy One should be bound by death, the resurrection was absolutely inevitable. It was not possible that He should be held by death Acts 2: The fact that Jesus remained God's Holy One despite the ordeal of the cross demonstrates that Jesus bore the penalty of human sin without becoming a sinner Himself.
It also shows that this payment of sins was perfect and complete, they only type of payment a Holy One could make. In these ways as Peter understood , the resurrection proves the perfection of Jesus' work on the cross. We might imagine Jesus taking this promise to Himself in the agony before and during the crucifixion, and even afterwards.
He sang, as He went, this hymn of immortal hope. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy: With these words David seemed to understand that the benefits of this life commitment to God were received in both this life, and the life beyond. The path of life is something enjoyed by the believer both now, and in eternity.
God gives us eternal life to enjoy as a present gift, extending into eternity. In Your presence is fullness of joy: This was a joy David could experience now in the context of his previously mentioned gladness and rejoicing , but also ultimately receive when in the more immediate presence of God.
Peter also quoted these lines in his message on the Day of Pentecost. They show that instead of being punished for His glorious work on the cross, Jesus was rewarded , as prophetically described in the Psalm. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore: David had full confidence that his life with God - both now and forevermore - would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements. These pleasures are enjoyed at a place: The right hand, even on earth, is the place of favor, and the place of honor, and they place of security.
The right-hand place is always regarded as the place of dignity and nobility in all courts. An answer depends on how one is defined. If love of women, even in a non-sexual sense, and an exclusive focus on the needs and lives of women define a woman as a lesbian, then — yes — Sappho was a lesbian. However, if a lesbian is defined more narrowly as a woman who has sex with another woman, then evidence to define Sappho as one is harder to establish. Of course, these two binaries are inherently artificial and without nuance. They are also ignorant of social constructionism, which insists on understanding an individual in her or his historical environment, its values, and its cultural specificities.
And, in the society of Archaic Mytilene, Sappho was not defined as a lesbian. That began with the Greeks and Romans of later centuries, who tended to interpret her skill as stemming from a perverted form of masculinity, which sometimes found expression in representations of her through the lens of a hyper-sexuality.
The Sappho mystique is further confounded by later testimonies such as the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia called the Suda or the Stronghold , which chronicled the history of the ancient Mediterranean. In one of two entries on Sappho, readers are informed that she was in love with a ferryman by the name of Phaon whose rejection of her caused her to leap to her death from the Leucadian Cliff.
This apocryphal history, which emerged in antiquity, went on to inspire artists, poets and playwrights for hundreds of years, despite the strange origins of Phaon as a figure of myth and legend. In the second entry on Sappho in the Suda, it is stated that Sappho was married, had a daughter by the name of Cleis, and was also a lover of women. In Fragment , for example, Sappho sings of Cleis:.
Sappho, following the poetic traditions of Archaic Greece, tended towards floral and natural imagery to depict feminine beauty and youth. Elsewhere, she evokes images of garlands, scents and even apples to convey feminine sensuality. Hers was largely a world of beauty, caresses, whispers and desires; songs sung in honour of the goddess Aphrodite , and tales of mythical love. Some say a host of cavalry, others of infantry, and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth, but I say it is whatever a person loves.
It is perfectly easy to make this understood by everyone: She extends her dictum with the example of the mythical figure of Helen of Troy , renowned in antiquity as the most beautiful woman in the world. Sappho reveals that Anactoria is gone and is missed. She compares her, indirectly, to Helen and then evokes her beauty, namely her gait and her sparkling face. But they are also powerful, as she rejects the world of masculine warfare in preference for beauty and desire. In another well-preserved piece, Fragment 31, Sappho evokes the sensations she experiences as a result of being seated opposite a beautiful woman:.
He seems to me equal in good fortune to the whatever man, who sits on the opposite side to you and listens nearby to your sweet replies and desire-inducing laugh: For just gazing at you for a second, it is impossible for me even to talk; my tongue is broken, all at once a soft flame has stolen beneath my flesh, my eyes see nothing at all, my ears ring, sweat pours down me, a tremor shakes me, I am more greenish than grass, and I believe I am at the very point of death.
Sappho, the man, and the woman. The man is god-like because he can be in the presence of the woman and remain unaffected. Sappho, in contrast, is a physical, mental and emotional wreck. The fragmented condition of the piece includes a few words that indicate at least one more stanza followed. Translating Sappho is no mean feat. Most of the work is in poor condition, pieced together by papyrologists to make readable texts for scholars to work from. Confronted with the Aeolic Greek of the poet, printed neatly on a page, the translator is immediately drawn into emendations, conjectures, broken lines, missing words, incomplete words, hypothetical punctuation and, in short, a philological headache.
And, after persisting, the translator is always dissatisfied. But despite the hurdles and the intellectual heartache, there are rewards in recent discoveries that continue to add more words, more lines, more stanzas and sometimes even new poems to the canon. In , the discovery of piece of papyrus that completed an existing fragment - thereby making a new poem by Sappho - received international media coverage.
The process of repair resulted in Poem 58 , which deals with the themes of youth and old age. Sappho mourns the passing of her youth, and reminds her audience of the myth of Tithonos , one of the few mortals to be loved by a goddess. Struck by the beauty of the young man, the goddess Eos asks Zeus to permit her to take the young man to live with her eternity. But Eos forgets to ask that Tithonos be granted a second gift: And so, she is left with a lover she quickly finds hideous and repellent, and Tithonos is left alone, trapped in a never-ending cycle of ageing.
More and more of Sappho is emerging. In , more new fragments were discovered that have assisted in reconstructing existing pieces, and bringing to light four previously unknown pieces. One relatively complete poem, Brothers Song is the most significant of the find because of its hitherto unknown status. The piece is also important because it further develops the image of the poet as an artist whose themes extended beyond the sensual and romantic.
The discoveries of this century are testimony to the fascinating and random nature of such finds.