Bible Insights: Psalm 137

Is it ever right to pray for harm on someone who hurt you or others? Does God expect us to forget what people have done to us as well as forgive them?

Bible Insight: Psalm 137 is one of the imprecatory psalms. (Others are 35, 58, 69,83 and 109) In these Psalms, God’s people ask for judgment on their enemies. Psalm 137 asks for God to punish the Edomites who cheered when the Babylonians captured the Jews. Even more shocking is the call for repayment against the Babylonians who seized their babies and dashed them against the rocks. Why God would allow such language in the scriptures is not hard to understand. His people were in pain and they were asking for justice. They did not want to take justice into their own hands lest they become as evil as the people they were asking God to punish. Better to let God deal with evil while they lived out their lives following His ways.

Evil is still all around us and God wants us to lay evil’s fate in His hands. It is still all right to pray that God deals with the shady politician or the next door neighbor who treats you badly. If we try to bring justice, we often become as evil as they are and get caught up in a spiral of evil where each person retaliates for the wrong that was done against them until it spirals out of control. I would make one addition to our prayers. Maybe we should pray for the Lord to change their heart with the gospel when He has broken them with the law. How nice it would be if that enemy could one day be a fellow Christian friend because God broke their spirit and then healed their heart.

This and That: The book, “32 days with Abraham” is out and is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. I am thankful to all those who have let me know how the devotions are helping them. I have also heard of several who are going to use the free 12 study Bible study that is in the book for a small group in the fall. They like the advantage of being able to copy the student lessons for the members of the group so that only those who want to buy a book do so. That just warms my heart. The purpose of the book is to get people into the word of God and help them to get to know Abraham personally instead of just knowing him as a vague superman character in the Bible. If you want a sample of the book, just click here.

I am currently working on the second book which should be out in September. This book, “32 Days with Christ’s Passion” will have the same format of 32 devotions and 12 bible studies and cover Jesus’ life from Palm Sunday to Easter. The focus is to see that the cross was Jesus’ passion in life. He wanted to save us so much that He gladly devoted His life for that purpose. My hope is that if the book comes out this September, people can use the Bible studies and follow the devotions during lent. The 32 days of devotions could easily be covered in the time from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

Please feel free to comment below or on 32daysdevotions@gmail.com

Podcast: Chapter 26 Entrusting Your Children to God

Focus Passage: Gen. 22:1-19

Why would God call Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac? This podcast answers that question and discusses the great impact that this act would have on Abraham and Isaac.

Welcome, my name is Mark Etter. I am happy to read a chapter from my book 32 days with Abraham. Today’s selection is chapter 26 – Entrusting your children to God.

Below is a summary of this chapter. This chapter is also one of the 3 chapters included in the sampler which can be downloaded free on the website’s book and booklet page. Click below to begin listening to the podcast. The full book may be purchased on Amazon as a softback book. It is also available on Kindle. Please give me feedback on this podcast and on the book. Your comments are very valuable to me. 

As a pastor, I have always felt the strain of family versus ministry. How do we manage the times when God calls us to put Him first? Are we willing to give our precious time to God so that He can make life for us and others better?

Abraham had waited for 25 years for this son. He knew that all the promises of God depended on Isaac. God came to him with a command that no one wants to hear. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac. . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (v.2) It was a test to see how much Abraham loved his God.

It would have been easier to strike Isaac down quickly while you had your nerve. Abraham was called to make a long journey to the sacred mountain. It was “on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” (v.4) The three-day journey gave Abraham plenty of time to turn back and refuse what must have seemed to be a cruel request.

In the end, he was willing to give back to the Lord the greatest gift that he had received. “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” (v.10) He believed in the promises of God so much that he trusted that God would give his son back to him somehow.

Abraham was willing to give up his most precious gift, his son, to the Lord. In that moment, God changed Abraham and Isaac. God will bless our lives as we dedicate them to Him so that they will be productive in ways that we cannot imagine. God will bless our children as we bring them to Him in faith.

I imagine that the teenage Isaac walked down the mountain a different person. He had heard the voice of God, seen God’s provision and seen the depth of his father’s love for God. When we entrust our children to God, it changes them. Giving our greatest gift to God does not mean that we lose them. Such action entrusts our children to the care and protection of the only one who can truly help them succeed.

What would you like your children to learn about God?

How would a closer relationship with the Lord impact their life and their future?

Bible Insights: Genesis 25

How many children did Abraham have? Was it 1, 2, 6 or 8 children? Why is this an important lesson for us as we think about the legacy that we leave?

Biblical Insight: The Bible mentions eight children born to Abraham. Most of us know about Ishmael and Isaac, but there are six more children born to Abraham and his second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-4). Abraham was 137 years old when Sarah died (Genesis 23:1) and could have just retired from life at that point. By taking a new wife and having half a dozen children, it shows that Abraham had an active life during the last 38 years of his life. His life didn’t just stop just because Sarah was grown or Isaac was now a man.

We don’t have to retire from life just because we grow old. Our retirement income may allow us to take on a second career or to volunteer in the community in a way that we just couldn’t have done while we were still working. It can also mean for grandparents that they have the opportunity to have a larger part in mentoring and teaching their grandchildren. The time to think about what retirement is all about is five to ten years before we retire. That is one of the big reasons that I have begun the blog and am ready to publish my first new book in twenty years. I would like to be a writer in retirement. Starting now gives me several years to work into this second career and publish five to seven books before the time of retirement has come. What can you do for God and others with your retirement? Abraham shows us that there is no reason that our “golden years” need to be wasted away.

This and That: With the publishing of “32 days with Abraham” next month, I am considering a podcast of one of the chapters. This website has the capability of letting you download a podcast and get a feel for what the book is like. I am curious if anyone has thoughts about what that podcast should contain. If you have any thoughts, please write them to 32daysdevotions@gmail.com or make a comment in the comment section of this website. I would really like to hear from you. As for me, this coming Sunday is the retirement of a dear pastor friend. Paul and I have been friends for over 40 years and this Sunday is his retirement as pastor of a church in Kansas City. We see what he has in mind for his retirement.