Hebrew Highlights 59 – WHATEVER IS PURE
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
Today, I’d like to do a comparison between one new testament scripture passage, and one from the old testament.
Let’s read first PHI 4:8-9, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”
These two verses seem to contain the essence of Judeo-Christian values, truth, honor, righteousness, purity, loveliness, good reputation, excellence, and praiseworthiness. I would venture to say that these are basically the opposite of the values usually portrayed on television.
It’s hard to explain why, but these words, in their Hebrew forms, are even stronger. Most of them are root words, on which both other terms, and complete ideas can be built.
Five of them can be found in PSA 19:7-11, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.”
In the passage in Philippians, we are promised that the God of peace will be with us. This in itself is the greatest reward possible. In the verses from Psalms, our prizes are listed in greater detail. They include restoration of our souls, wisdom, joy, enlightenment, endurance, and righteousness.
Although I have meditated on PHI 4:8-9 many times, I still find it to be a bit overwhelming. With so much worldly drivel in our environment, how can we keep our minds set on such lofty thoughts?
An old “Peanuts” cartoon comes to remembrance, in which Linus expounds to Charly Brown, saying, “I used to take life on day at a time, now I’m down to a half day at a time.”
Perhaps our key to success in following these grand scriptural principles is to take it “one thought, or one picture at a time”, either accepting, or rejecting what confronts us.
2CO 10:3-6 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”
Sometimes we get frustrated when our obedience is not yet complete; when we discover over and over again that we are not yet perfect. Well, just keep trying. Remember that Paul said, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things.”
As a musician, I know that “practices make perfect”. However, as a teacher, I never asked my students to memorize a whole symphony at once. If we first learn the tune of truth, then the counterpoint of honor, then the percussion of purity, and so on, our composition will gradually come together. When we finally get it right, all the angels will give us a standing ovation. In the mean time, God will be sitting in the King’s private box, applauding each and every successful tone.
Shalom, Shalom, from Jerusalem.