Bible Tuesday for Trinity Sunday, 2016
Proverbs 8:1-4 & 22-31
Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4 ‘To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
22 The Lord created me at the beginning* of his work,*
the first of his acts of long ago.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26 when he had not yet made earth and fields,*
or the world’s first bits of soil.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;*
and I was daily his* delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
Proverbs 7 is a description of lewdness and lust personified as a “strange” woman. Proverbs 8 is a description of wisdom, prudence, faithfulness personified as a woman.
While the strange woman lures from the shadows, Wisdom calls from all public places, including the city gate where commerce and government are conducted. Personified Wisdom is to be sought above all things, for in practicing wisdom, it was believed that wealth and society would be gained.
While sin and lust, personified in the strange woman, are a result of the fall, Wisdom was created by God and shows the way of God. Wisdom rejoiced in God’s creating and nurturing, as will all who embrace and practice wisdom.
O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals* that you care for them?
5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,*
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This psalm is one of only 3 in the entire psalter which consists entirely of praise and does not include any petition or denunciation. The first and last lines are identical, a repetition of praise which brackets lines of praise and wonder. Verses 5-8 expound on the Imago Dei, the image of God, in which humans are created. The psalmist marvels are the position in creation in which God has placed humanity, giving humanity divinity.
Verse 2 contains an ancient idiom which is not understood by Hebrew scholars. Some scholars speculate it means that even infants and toddlers know and praise God.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we* have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access* to this grace in which we stand; and we* boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we* also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
This passage begins with “Therefore”, and indication that what Paul writes here is founded on a previous point. Chapter 4 of Romans is an explanation that righteousness was not reckoned/accounted to Abraham because he was circumcised, but because Abraham believed the three fold promise God made to him. Paul argues that this faith Abraham expressed was before Abraham was circumcised, and that circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, in which Abraham had faith. Paul further argues that a place in the covenant between God and Abraham cannot be earned through circumcision, but rather is gifted by God through faith. This is Paul’s statement that God is the God of “all the nations of the world” who believe into God, not just the Jews who mark themselves as God’s chosen through circumcision.
Beginning in the above verses, Paul goes on to state that this covenant between God and Abraham, this granting of righteousness/forgiveness of sins, is given through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lord and Christ/Savior. God gives grace, unearned love and forgiveness, to not just Abraham, nor just to Jews, but to all who believe into the covenant which is signed with Jesus blood, death, and resurrection.
A word about boasting. Paul uses the word “boasting” several times in his letters. As a German Lutheran female, the whole concept of boasting is anathema to me. I feel guilty singing, “We are the Champions” at a Packer game when I am seated near Bear fans. German Lutherans are not good at accepting compliments but we are too good at heaping criticism. I may not accept your compliment on my horse riding but I will eagerly join in gossip about the errors in everyone else’s riding. If we, the baptized who believe into Jesus and feel relatively secure in our spot in heaven, deride other kinds of Christians or believers in other faiths, and see them as less than ourselves, we are most certainly boasting, albeit in a backhanded sort of way. We are boasting about ourselves! Paul challenges his readers/hearers to change the direction of that boasting from ourselves, to what God grants to all. Paul’s boasting isn’t boasting about one’s superiority, but advertising and evangelizing God’s graciousness to all who dare believe Jesus.
The last verses are a glimpse at the prophets’ and Jesus’ teaching to give thanks in all circumstances. Paul urges us to not complain but rather give thanks in bitter circumstances because through them we grow into faith and hope in God by the work of the Holy Spirit.
‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The challenge of Holy Trinity Sunday is that it is a feast day of doctrine as opposed to the life of Jesus or the life of the Church. But doctrine, by definition, is teaching based on scripture. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is based on both Hebrew and New Testament scriptures. The Holy Spirit, or hagia pneuma in Greek, is found from the very first verses of Genesis through the last verses of Revelation. Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the ruach/hagia pneuma brooded over the face of the waters.” Genesis 12 gives hint at a hero, a savior, a messiah, who will come from descendants of Abraham, which is referred to and spelled out more clearly throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Finally, in the New Testament gospels, Jesus is presented as the savior/messiah, Son of God/Son of Man, King of the Jews, and fulfiller of the covenant between God and creation.
In the above passage, Jesus acknowledges that due to his human finitude and the overwhelmed state of the disciples, the disciples have received as much as Jesus is able to give them. But Jesus also acknowledges that the disciples need more…so another will be sent to continue guiding them. Then God, the Father is mentioned in the above passage, as is Jesus, the son, as is the Holy Spirit, or in this case the “Spirit of truth”. So it really does look like there is a Father/God, a junior god in Jesus, and some kind of divine messenger in the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what the Mormons teach. But Jews are monotheists, whose key Biblical verse is the Shema, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord, your God, the Lord is one!” Christians do not deviate from this rallying cry one iota! Three divine personages but in only one God. Thus, the doctrine of the trinity. In this doctrine, Father, Son, and Spirit are all understood to be one community of three persons. The mystery in this doctrine is that there is only one God and there are three distinct personages in this one God but they are not just one God acting differently in different situations, such as a triathlete or a person who is son or daughter/adult/parent. No, one God in three persons, which makes no sense, and yet is. This mystery certainly does merit a feast day in the Christian Church Year calendar.