Honest Q & A: Bible (3) – Put to Shame

Question:  What does it mean to be “put to shame,” as in David’s frequent prayers to not be put to shame? Does it fit into the Christian framework, or was it just important before Christ?

Answer:  This is a good question, because the terminology is not something we use in our day or in our culture. In fact, the concept of “shame” is less familiar to us than it was to David and company.

To be put to shame is to be humiliated. It is when people view us with contempt, disrespect or deep disapproval. It is to “lose face,” as when one loses the respect of others or loses a good reputation.

When David prays these prayers, he is pointing out to God that all eyes are upon him and he doesn’t want to be humiliated in front of the nation or general public. He doesn’t want to be an object of their scorn.

Personally, I think it still has some relevance, as long as we understand it rightly. To want to look good in front of people may not be the simple, selfish pride of trying to keep up a good front.  It need not be a lack of humility. 

We should genuinely want to earn people’s respect, have a good name in our community and succeed at what we do. If we do foul something up, we want people to cut us some slack because they know we really tried, merely failed, and ultimately want to learn from our errors.

Simultaneously it should not be our desire to try to drag people down and make them look foolish. Gossip is often motivated by a desire to do just that. We should remember that others want to be treated respectfully just as we do. We can enhance one another’s respect or reputation by pointing out their strong points to others or to the people themselves.

 

Honest Q & A: Bible (2) – Holiness, Righteousness and Justice

 

Question: What is the connection between holiness, righteousness and justice?

Good question, as the three are sort of related, but not the same thing. We’ll take them in reverse order, beginning with

Justice: Put most simply, this is giving someone what they rightly deserve. It can be either reward or punishment, including punishment for sin. It can be giving someone that which is their right, including helping orphans, widows or the poor, who may easily be subject to unfair treatment. Governments are to treat people justly, meaning they have to play fair and not play favorites. As pertaining to God, his justice would of course be perfect, as he sees every infraction but also perfectly understands every genuine mitigating or moderating factor.

Righteousness: This term is based on a concept something like “straightness,” leading to the thought of actions conforming to the norms or standards of right behavior. It is important, however, to view righteousness in light of relationship. We behave righteously toward one another when do what is required of us and promote the community’s peace and well-being. In Romans, Paul contrasts the righteousness obtained by the law (imperfect, for we will never behave perfectly in our relationship to God), and the righteousness obtained by faith (perfect, for divinely given). Thus, by faith we obtain a righteous status before God, something we cannot earn. He then equips us to live righteously before others and in his sight.

Holiness: Fundamentally, to be holy is to be “set apart.” It is an otherness in contrast with that which is common or profane. In the Old Testament, objects were set apart for use in the Temple worship, and were not used for anything else. There was a ritual purity attached to them that made them different. In the New Testament our word saints literally means “holy ones.” In other words, God has set certain people apart, namely, those who have received eternal life by faith. They are now holy because they have been cleansed from their sin and set apart for God’s special purposes. God’s holiness can be thought of as his ultimate and all-encompassing attribute. He is totally other and totally pure without any blemish or defect whatsoever. Thus, his holiness would include both justice and righteousness.

(In answering this, I consulted The Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, by Grenz, Guretzki and Nordling, 1999; and New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Tyndale, 1982)

 

Palmer St. Podcast: A Man after God’s Heart

David is held up as Israel’s greatest king – the one to which others are compared.  He also begins the royal line that leads us to Jesus Christ.  This is where the Bible introduces us to him.

1 Samuel 16-17.mp3

1 Samuel 16-17.pdf

1 Samuel 16-17.pptx

Palmer St. Podcast: Samuel’s Farewell

One of the deepest encouragements or challenges we get in the Bible comes in the form of final words of great individuals.  Today we’re looking at Samuel’s farewell message to the people as he steps down as the Israel’s judge to give way to Saul as the first king.

1 Samuel 12.mp3

1 Samuel 12.pdf

1 Samuel 12.pptx

Palmer St. Podcast: Refuge Under His Wings

During the times of the Judges in Israel, when everyone was doing that which was right in their own eyes, we see something different in the story of the Moabite Ruth.

Ruth.mp3

Ruth.pdf

Ruth.pptx