— The Lord’s Day —

Week 13: Sunday

Pondering Jesus’ victorious Word

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
 say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.”
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence because
you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord. (Psalm 16).”

θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

God’s holy word is always effective. The Letter to the Hebrews boldly announces: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).” While this is always the case, sometimes there are those gifted moments when the Word of God and the grace of the Holy Spirit bless one with a ‘wow moment’ – an occasion of new insight and new connection or connections.

For example, this Sunday our Churches will chant Psalm 16: “You are my inheritance, O Lord.” As is the usual case with translations of God’s Word, we naturally understand the words, connotatively or denotatively, from the context of our present day life. From time to time, as often happens on this blog, when a given word or phrase is examined in its original usage, context and meaning it offers another insight useful for and ordered to salvation. As the Psalm is chanted this Sunday, what meaning will you and others give to inheritance? Perhaps you may recall a gift received after a loved one died. Perhaps you may recall the toil and drudgery involved in settling an estate in order to receive the inheritance. Perhaps you may recall how matters surrounding inheritance changed life and relationships, often not for the better.

In a ‘hair-scratching’ sort of way, the biblical word inheritance translates the Hebrew word חֵקֶל (cheleq). חֵקֶל (cheleq) emerges from a family of Hebrew words that mean ‘allotment,’ ‘share or distribution of goods due a person’ and ‘to smooth.’

‘To smooth’ – what possible connection exists between inheritance and smooth? In the biblical world of the Psalms, people played games of chance then just as we do now. The prize, often termed an ‘allotment’ or a ‘lot,’ could be the result of rolling a rock (the forerunner of the present dice) whose surface had been smoothed. The rock would be smoothed to have various sides (not just 9 as in our present-day ‘cubed’ dice) and engraved with various letters, Greek letters as was the custom in the days of Jesus’ ministry. The valued ‘lots’ were rocks that were ultra smooth to roll easily and hopefully provide a person with an allotment when the rock (lot) rested and people could ‘read’ the winning letter on the top facet.

So how might this background assist each of us today in responding to the Lord’s work of salvation within each of us? Psalm 16, in proclaiming the Lord as inheritance is, in essence, proclaiming the Lord as ‘the Smoother, the One Who does the smoothing of the rough edges of our lives.’ What happens with rough and jagged edges? Things get caught on them. If a surface is smoothed and polished, other things have a hard time clinging to that surface. Thus when life becomes smoother through the Lord’s grace, the jagged edges of our lives gradually diminish and sin has no place to hook onto and burrow into our lives. Recall other biblical images: the Suffering Servant who is a polished arrow, hidden in the quiver; the highway that Isaiah proclaims will smooth the rugged land and so make for the coming of God in our midst.

The Inheritance we sing today is an allotment – a gift given to us. Beyond a quantifiable ‘thing’ given, the gift we receive is the continuous work of the Holy Spirit smoothing each to have a surface that faces life and is able to repel sin by saying no to its deception.