Tag Archives: Gold

God, My Protector

Meditations on the Psalms

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3 ESV)

Though surrounded by those who demean Him, give false testimony against Him, and mock Him, Jesus knows with whom the ultimate authority and control resides. Nothing done by the Deceiver, the world or those who follow their own sinful flesh will impact Him or keep Him from accomplishing His eternal purpose.

Again, Jesus uses the proper name for God, YHWH, as He addresses the One who protects Him. He declares God is a shield surrounding Him. Shield is a small or large defensive weapon, flat and covered with leather, used to deflect the blows of a sword or stop arrows from reaching their target, the soldier carrying the shield. Smaller shields were used in hand-to-hand combat, both defensively and offensively. God is His Protector.

God is not just a Protector. God is His glory, His honor, abundance, dignity, reputation. And God is the lifter of His head, which means God raises Him up, with the dignity and splendor due His royal position.

This claim seems diametrically opposed to the previous account where Jesus is surrounded and mocked by His foes, by those who are torturing Him to death. We must not forget the beginning of His history in the space-time universe, nor the conclusion of His ministry before He returns to His rightful place in eternity.

After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, He and His parents were visited by worshippers from an Eastern country. These visitors saw in the heavens the imminent birth of the king of the Jews. Traveling from their country, they sought out Herod the Great, a non-Jew, who was the leader and overseer of Judea under the Roman empire. “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2 ESV). Herod was not delighted with the proclamation of these men but did not show his anger to them. He was a ruler who conspired against the Lord and His Anointed. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed” (Psalm 2:2 ESV). He deceptively instructed the men from the East to find the child and return to him, so “I too may come and worship him” (Matthew 2:8 ESV).

They left Herod’s presence and found Jesus and worshipped Him as God. Jesus was with His mother, Mary, and they gave Him “gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 ESV), gifts suitable for a recognized King. They did not return to Herod to tell him about Jesus. “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way” (Matthew 2:12 ESV). God warned them to not return to Herod, just as God warned Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, to flee their country.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15 ESV; see Hosea 11:1)

Herod’s intent was to slaughter the child. He was shrewd and ruthless in keeping his political and personal power, murdering members of his own family. He cared only for those who would advance his authority over the land he ruled. He wanted to kill Jesus but did not know how to identify the child. So, he slaughtered all of the children in the vicinity of where the men from the East said Jesus lived. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16 ESV). None of the children he murdered, or any of their family, were guilty of a crime against him or their country.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, God shielded Him from the assaults of a world that hated Him, until the end of His ministry. Then He felt the brunt of the world’s hatred toward God and died. After He died, God lifted His head, raised Him from the dead, and brought Him into His presence, returning to Him the glory He set aside to become a man. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV).

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Four Rivers

Studies in Genesis 2

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14 ESV)

God waters His garden with a river or stream. This stream is the head waters for four rivers which part from it once the stream flows out of the Garden of Eden. We have no name for the river which flows through the Garden of Eden. God does name the four rivers which come from the river of Eden.

Speculation about the place of the Garden of Eden revolves around the geographical location of the source of these four rivers. There is little evidence of where these four rivers are let alone where they began. They are named, as are the lands through which they flow, by God. But to suggest the names we have now correspond to the names given by God presupposes He wants us to know where these lands and rivers are and where the Garden of Eden was. If we knew we would turn the area into a shrine and worship it and not the Creator of it.

God named the first river the “Pishon” and it flows through the land of “Havilah.” He also specifically tells us there is “gold” in that land and that the “gold of the land is good” followed by a note saying “bdellium and onyx are there.” Pishon is named only once in Scripture and may mean dispersion or increase. Havilah means circle. There are several places and at least two men with this name. Havilah is a place of gems and metals. Bdellium is probably a resin from the sap of trees that gives a delightful fragrance then hardens into amber. Onyx is a gem. Now, men place financial value on gold and precious or semi-precious gems. God simply says the gold of Havilah is “good,” the same word He uses to describe His work in creation. Everything God creates is good.

The second river is named “Gihon” and is supposed to encompass the entire land of “Cush” which may be Ethiopia. Gihon may mean bursting forth. Gihon is also the name of a spring near Jerusalem. Cush also means black.

Two other rivers are named. One is the “Hiddekel” or Tigris and the other is the “Euphrates.” Hiddekel means swift or rapid and is commonly referred to as the Tigris and either flows “east of Assyria” or flows toward the “east of Assyria.” There are two rivers which flow almost parallel through the land of Assyria toward the Persian Gulf. Both rivers begin in the mountains of Turkey and merge before flowing into the Persian Gulf. They have historically carried the names of Tigris and Euphrates.

I want to make two assumptions about why God tells us about these rivers, places, metals, resins and gems. First, God names real places and things. He names light Day and the dark Night. He named the expanse above the earth Heaven, the dry land He called Earth and the waters He called Seas. He did not name the stars, the days or season, the plants or animals. He named Eden, the home for the man He created. He did not name the river which watered Eden but did name the four rivers which parted from the river of Eden after it left the Garden. He named Havilah, Gihon, Cush, or Ethiopia, and Assyria. God does not simply arbitrarily name things but the reasons for the names given may not be obvious to us.

Eden is a real place. Or was a real place.

Secondly, in making Man in His image God gave Man authority over the earth. Everything He created is good, which means useful, not just tasty or pretty. God wanted man to fashion the gold and resin and other metals and use the gems and other stones. By stating the gold is good God is giving permission for man to use and make and create. Man’s ability to imagine and fashion that which is attractive and useful is part and parcel to the image of God given. God’s image in Man is as real as the physical places and things God created.