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Distractions

“And so it was set before him to eat, but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have spoken my words.’ And he said, ‘Speak.’”

(Genesis 24:33)

 

There is something to be said here about the directness of purpose that Eliezer brings with him. We are not told exactly what it is that Laban has set before Eliezer and his men to eat, in fact, the word “food” that is assumed by many of our English texts is absent from the Hebrew altogether. It is left to our imaginations as to the extent of the meal because it simply is not important to the big picture, but we might reasonably assume that the meal was rather extensive given Laban’s seeking to “court” an obviously wealthy individual. Yet Eliezer is more concerned with bringing his message to Rebekah’s household than he is to see his own needs met.

How often we lose sight of our own purpose and calling when we set out to do something. How often we allow the distractions of life to take us off task, particularly when it comes to doing the Lord’s work. When we interact with a friend or neighbor in the hopes of sharing the Gospel, how often we are more eager to speak about anything else but the Gospel. God has given us a task, to take the Gospel to all of the nations, making disciples of people from every land — may we be focused on engaging in that task without distractions, no matter how enticing those distractions may be at the time.

A Proverb in a Song: part 4

“My mouth shall speak wisdoms;

the meditation of my heart is understanding.”

(Psalm 49:4 {Psalm 49:3 in English Bibles})

 

And now that the psalmist has called peoples from across the planet to heed the words of his lips, he addresses them specifically.  He is saying, listen here, you people of the earth and I will provide true wisdom for your ears!  In addition, the psalmist clarifies the importance of what he is going to say by pointing out that the meditation of his heart—that which he is about to speak—will give them understanding.  Oh, beloved, how deep a truth this is for us—wisdom and understanding come from no other place but from God and is conveyed to us through his Word.  How often do we seek to forge our own understandings?  How often do we reject the plain teachings of scripture because we cannot comprehend what is being revealed?  How often do we submit the scriptures to our own understanding rather than submitting our understanding to the scriptures?

Now, you will note something unusual about the translation that I have rendered with respect to the word “wisdom.”  In English and in Hebrew, the word wisdom is normally used as a collective noun, simply meaning that whether you speak one piece of wisdom or twenty, it is still referred to as “wisdom” and not “wisdoms.”  Yet, in this verse, the psalmist has pluralized this word.  What is significant about this is that the plural form of wisdom only occurs in four places in the Hebrew Bible—once here, and three times in the book of Proverbs (1:20, 9:1, 24:7).  This provides a connection to what it is that the psalmist is going to communicate in the following verse—the wisdom that he is about to espouse is a proverb to be heard by all the nations of the earth.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Hebrew word for meditation, tWgh’ (haguth), is derived from the Hebrew verb, hg”h’ (hagah), which means, “to growl.”  The imagery is   reflective of the way that traditional Hebrew students of God’s word would mutter softly as they were immersed in their study of the scriptures.  This intense concentration, accompanied by the quiet muttering as they studied, was reminiscent of an animal quietly growling as they were focused steadfastly on their prey.  This being said, it is worth posing the question, in our busy and hectic world, do we ever make the time to study God’s word so intently that we do not permit distractions to encroach on that time?  Sadly, I think that answer for most of us is no. 

Beloved, hear the words of wisdom that will come from the depth of this psalmist’s soul.  They will bring understanding to our hearts.  But do not only hear his words, hear what he communicates to us by his life.  He is a man who has spent time growling over scripture—so deeply focused on the study of God’s word that outside distractions are cast aside totally.  And as a result of this devotion to God’s word, wisdom pours from his lips.  Friends, if you want wisdom, James reminds us that we are to pray for it and that God will give it in abundance (James 1:5-8)—and this comes through trial (James 1:2-4).  Yet, if you want to nurture and mature wisdom, you must immerse yourself in the undistracted study of God’s word.  That means we must be deliberate about making such time—indeed, that is a challenge in our modern, fast-paced culture, but oh, how wonderful the benefits of such time are!