Memorial Day 2023

This weekend, there were a couple of old, black-and-white war movies I enjoyed watching. They were shown on the TMC channel. If you have Fios, that’s channel 230 in my corner of Pennsylvania.

Anyway. What intrigued me about these movies was the minimal blood and gore, and the focus on the thinking and emotional struggles of the soldiers. My 18 years as a psychotherapist kicked into high gear as I watched the way various actors portrayed their parts. One eventually just lost it. Waiting hour after hour, minute by minute for some action–ANY action–to start finally wore out his last nerve. He fell into a weeping puddle. What really amazed me was how kind the other men were. They understood. No one reviled him or called him a coward.


Others handled the stress with humor, often sardonic. Some talked about what they would do when “this mess” was all over. Some talked of their yearning for home–especially the ones who had wives or girlfriends. Always, they watched as they marched, or rested. Always, there were sentries while they tried to get some sleep. Always, there was the imminent reality of death.

There were a few unflattering references to the enemy, but not many. Once, as two of them shared a can of K-rations, they talked about how “the Huns” were just as scared as they were, and wondered what they had for food.

One of the movies featured a literally crazy general who believed the only way to control his men was through fear. In that same movie, a sergeant was happy to kill a captured enemy soldier after giving him a cigarette. That same sergeant later plotted against the lieutenant of his company, and was responsible for the deaths of several of his own men. All in the name of power and control.

There were true heroes, men risking their lives to save many others’ lives. Men who volunteered for the most dangerous missions in which death was almost certain.

My dad was a WWII vet, and fought his war in a submarine. I vaguely remember Korea, though not on a personal level. But Viet Nam did touch me personally. There were at least two soldiers I know of who graduated with my high school class, and then immediately left for the war. They came back in coffins. I remember the newspaper stories of those two young men, and how unreal it seemed that someone I knew and greeted in the halls every day was just–gone.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, who fought in the American Civil War back in the 1860s, is credited with telling young new recruits that “War is hell.” Indeed it is, and no more so than a civil war in which families are divided, neighbors and relatives bear arms against each other, and nothing is ever really settled.

America is in the midst of an undeclared civil war right now. Violence has become rampant, with very little done to stop it. Accusations, calumniations, endless incarceration of political prisoners going on without trial for over two years; threats and counter-threats fly through cyber-space, with a shocking use of the F-bomb, which seems to have taken the place of most adjectives and a lot of nouns and verbs.

I’m nearly 76. I have wonderful memories of Memorial Day parades, music, and picnics with family and friends. It was the beginning of summer. School never went past Memorial Day back then, as it often seems to do now.

It’s a different world now, not a better one. I wonder, if those who are buried at Arlington and other military cemeteries could speak to us, just what they would say. I think the world they fought to save would break their hearts if they could see what we have become.

Saturday Soliloquy: Thoughts While Crocheting

I learned to crochet when I was about 10. My mom taught my sister and me, started us out making round potholders, and then using much smaller thread, I went on to develop a love for fine crochet in doilies and other lacy things. I’m still using a piano scarf I made early in our marriage, maybe 50 years ago. Such items are not so popular these days, but I still love them. The patterns please me. I always think of snowflakes.

Lately, though, I’ve switched to creating sleeping mats out of plastic bags. They are donated to the homeless. I have a friend who has done lots of plarning for me, and she likes to mix and match all different colors together in the balls of plarn she gives me. Plarn, by the way, is “plastic yarn.” We cut the bags into strips, then loop the strips together and wind them up like yarn.

Right now, I’m working with some balls holding an endless variety of colors. There’s no particular pattern in this mat, just lots of color. Here it is, about halfway finished:

As you can see, there are some small patterns in the overall view, but they are not repeated consistently in the mat.

And all this got me thinking about life. If you’re like me, maybe you had some definite ideas about how your life would look. I like to plan and organize. Sometimes, though, planning and organizing get disrupted by unexpected twists and turns, and you just have to learn to go with that.

I have a friend whose 11-year-old son was recently diagnosed with a small brain tumor. He underwent surgery yesterday, and it was, happily, successful as far as removing most of the tumor. There will be further treatment, still to be decided upon. Right now, he’s experiencing some unpleasant post-surgery symptoms. His life’s pattern has been rearranged for now, along with the patterns of his parents and siblings. It’s taken on a different set of colors, a somewhat jumbled set of colors, and the outcome is still to be fully determined.

You just can’t plan for that sort of thing. What you do is accept it and adapt to it, and try not to be all discombobulated because the pattern isn’t what you had in mind.

Maybe your life plan included a whole flock of babies, but, like another friend of mine, there have been multiple miscarriages. Heartbreaking, life-changing realities that you grieve intensely. Your plans have to change, so you adapt.

Maybe you married for keeps, seeing 50+ years of growing old with THE ONE you have chosen. But death comes early, leaving you breathless and heartbroken, alone, believing you could not survive. But you do, because your life has a new pattern and you have no choice but to become a part of it as you rear your children without the only one you ever thought you could love. And you do what you have to do, finding joy slowly as you adapt to your new circumstances.

Maybe you do have that 50+ years of a good marriage. You and your spouse teased each other about how neither of you could get along on your own. Then death comes, and you ARE alone, and you don’t think you can stand it. But you’re a survivor now, not just in losing your spouse, but in all the changes life has brought your way, disrupting your pattern and creating a new one.

The one constant in all of this, for the believer, is God. My mother, who was widowed at age 68, told me several years after Dad died that she had learned to lean on God in a whole new way. She had leaned on Dad for over 50 years (yes, they were married very young!) and it took her some time to transfer that dependence into a sincere dependence on the Lord.

Terry and I have been married for nearly 54 years. We both have physical conditions that make it a toss-up as to who will go to heaven first. We talk about it, because we’re practical people who like to plan and organize. But I know, when that life-pattern changes, that it’s going to be incredibly hard for whichever one of us remains here for a time.

All of this running through my head, just because I’m creating a sleeping mat with many different colors that I can’t always predict.

Praise God!

Psalm 72:17-20.

His Name shall endure for ever: His Name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.

Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, Who only doeth wondrous things.

And blessed be His glorious Name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen.

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

When I was around five or six, at Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis, we always opened the Sunday Morning service with this grand old hymn. The organist would play the opening chord, as the congregation rose to its feet. It was a beautiful pipe organ, and I used to love to watch the biggest pipes in the center open and close what I thought of as their doors ūüôā After a while, I began to realize that those flaps opened or closed when the music changed from one chord to another. I got early ear-training :). The words to that hymn echoed in my mind as I read today’s passage.

It seems to me that there is no commentary needed for these verses. In spite of man’s efforts to humanize God and elevate man, the fact remains that His is God, and there is no one else like Him, and never will be.

The final line indicates that the rest of the psalms will be written by someone other than David. His life was ending, and he used this final song to bring praise, glory, and honor to the God Who had set him on Israel’s throne, and Who had always, always restored him to favor with Himself when David repented of his sin and was broken by his guilt.

He was, after all, a man after God’s own heart.

Precious in His Sight

Psalm 72:14-16.

He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in His sight.

And He shall live, and to Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for Him continually; and daily shall He be praised.

There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

Solomon had a remarkable reign, especially in the earlier years of his kingdom. However, in spite of the wisdom God had granted to him, he took on many wives and concubines. These women were often part of peace treaties between other nations and Israel. They maintained their worship of idols, and Solomon permitted such worship to continue in Israel. He also increased his numbers of horses and chariots, against God’s specific command. He conscripted men into his army and women into his harem; and he raised taxes to support things that God had forbidden him to do. He was, in earthly terms, a great king. He had a great start, but success weakened him.

The greater King, however, would not repeat Solomon’s errors. Messiah, during the Millennial reign, would not only take care of the wealthy; He would also care for the poor and needy, providing food in abundance to meet their needs. Verse 14 says that their blood shall be precious in His sight. We see this statement again in Ps. 116:16: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

In Solomon’s day, as has always been the case all through history, the poor and needy were given little attention when they sickened and died. They were of little value to the rulers who used and abused them. But when Jesus reigns, there will be no such dismissal of the value of human life. Their blood will be precious to Him. They are His creation, and His blood was shed for them. Each life will be counted as having great importance to Him.

Finally, during the Millennial Kingdom, there will be no want of food. The picture in v. 16 is that of a handful of grain on a mountaintop expanding and growing, and pouring down upon the valleys in an abundance of food. No one will go hungry. The famine that would destroy a great deal of the population during the Tribulation will cease to exist, and the whole earth will rejoice in the abundance of food.

Near Future and Far Future

Psalm 72:10-13.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.

Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him.

For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.

___________________

There are many interesting graphics depicting v. 10. As I searched for the one I felt would best represent the verse, I came upon three different interpretations:

The first picture depicts King Solomon being visited by the Queen of Sheba, who brought him lavish gifts. In the second, we see the Wise Men bringing gifts to Jesus. In the third, we see the prophecy fulfilled that all nations of the earth will bow down before Him.

Which one is correct?


I believe all three hold the truth of this passage. In the near future, as this psalm was penned, would be the visit of the Queen of Sheba. In the far future would be the birth of Messiah, Jesus Christ. Farther yet will be the reign of Messiah over all the earth. Jesus has always been Messiah. He is the heart and soul of all scripture. Before He gave up His life on the cross, all scripture pointed forward toward that event. Since the cross, all scripture points back to that event! It is central to everything else, and His resurrection is a part of that picture. Without it, His death would have been that of just another Jewish rebel dealt with in the customary horrific Roman manner.

He conquered sin on the cross, and He conquered death with His resurrection.

This psalm takes on a whole new meaning when it is read with these things in mind.

His millennial reign will be one of justice; it will also be one of great compassion.

One last thing. Both Sheba and Seba are mentioned in v. 10, along with Tarshish. Tarshish was

  1. a city of the Phoenicians in a distant part of the Mediterranean Sea to which the prophet Jonah was trying to flee
    1. site unknown but perhaps in Cyprus or Spain
  2. a city somewhere near and accessible to the Red Sea to which ships constructed at Ezion-geber on the Elanitic Gulf on the Red Sea were to sail
BlueLetter Bible

Sheba was a nation in southern Arabia, likely descendants of Seth. And Seba was a nation south of Palestine, perhaps Ethiopia. In all three cases, it was a long journey to Jerusalem.

Saturday Soliloquy: Memories

How can it possibly be Saturday again? This week has flown by so fast!

The other day, someone posted a “never have I ever” list of things that related to the era of the 70s through the 90s. I think there were 20 statements. I lost one point, because as far as I can remember I’ve never listened to music on a Walkman.

I tried to find the list, but who wants to scroll through three or four days of Facebook?

It did bring back some fun memories, though. I was teaching a lot back then, and saw everything from spiral perms to pants falling down. I remember when all the “cool” kids started showing up in expensive leather jackets. It was painful for the kids whose parents just couldn’t afford it. We all know how important it is to dress like the cool kids, no matter what. I also remember when those leather jackets in the stores were literally chained to the display; they also had to ink-spraying anit-theft doodads on them.

Other question had to do with music. Yes, I’ve listened to 45 rpms, and to 33s. Yes, I have a big collection of CDs. Yes, I know how to upload them. Just don’t want to.

Yes, I’ve dialed a rotary phone. And a pushbutton phone. And I’ve used a telephone booth and a telephone book. Yes, I’ve seen black-and-white movies. Just a couple of days ago, I watched a silent Charlie Chaplin on TMC television. It was hilarious!

Last night I watched the original Cary Grant version of Arsenic and Old Lace. Raymond Massey, who later played Perry Mason, was the freaky-looking monsterish bad guy. He was thin and bony back then ūüôā

Raymond Massey, Cary Grant, and Peter Lorre

Yes, I’ve worn nylon stockings held up by a garter belt. Thank goodness for panty hose, which I still use in spite of the fact that bare legs are now the “in” way to go. Not for me. My bare legs have veiny roadmaps on them. Not attractive.

No, I’ve never worn yoga pants in public. Never will. I grew up in the era in which women still wore girdles. I threw mine away centuries ago, but I still like to be modest. I don’t care to have THAT part of me being a sight for sore eyes.

A few years ago, Terry and I were driving through a college town. Herds of girls were going to and fro, and every single one was wearing black yoga pants. Are they a uniform of some sort? It used to be that jeans were de rigueur, Seems they’ve given way to yoga pants.

I’ll be 76 in July, so I’m no longer worried about having the latest fad or fashion. I like to look nice, but not at the expense of my self-respect ūüôā It’s one of the benefits of growing older. No one inspects your outfit the way high school girls inspect each other. What a relief!

Well, anyway, that walk down memory lane was fun and enlightening for me. Things have changed so much since 1947, when I Boomered into the population. The summer I was 10, we watched Sputnik travel across the night sky. The summer we were married was the summer of Woodstock and walking on the moon. Yeah, a long time ago.

Peace!

Psalm 72:7-9.

In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust.

The world cries, “Peace, Peace! And there is no peace.”(Jeremiah 16:9, et. al.)

Why will there be no peace in this world until the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ? Even then, there will be some who will try to stir an insurrection, but they will have no success. Satan will be bound, and his influence limited.

There will be no peace until Jesus rules and reigns because the heart of mankind craves power and control over all the rest of mankind. So it has been since Satan spoke to Eve and destroyed their peace in the Garden of Eden. Part of God’s curse on their sin was that Eve’s desire would be to rule over and control her husband. It’s what we all want–we want to be THE BOSS–even if it’s just for a short time. As long as that desire exists, there can be no peace in this world.

When Jesus reigns, the righteous will flourish because sin will not have dominion. All the parts of the earth, from the oceans to the rivers that empty into them; from the wilderness and the deserts to even the hearts of His enemies, there shall be peace.

The wonderful things is that when we know Christ, we can have peace in our hearts and minds in spite of the turmoil around us.

Like Refreshing Rain

Psalm 72:5-6.

They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

Following the theme of prophecies of the Millenial Kingdom, these two verses speak of the incredible blessings that will come with the reign of Messiah here on Earth.

The word fear in v. 5, is to stand in awe, to be in reverence. I rarely use the word awesome to describe anything with which we’re familiar in this life. Things can be spectacular, like the Rocky Mountains as they grow from a blue line on the horizon to their majestic heights as one grows closer. Things can be amazing, like a young woman named Yuja Wang, who dominates the piano keyboard. Look her up on Youtube. You’ll be impressed!

But only God is truly awesome, inspiring reverence and complete humility in those who believe in Him; and some day, even those who do not believe in Him now will see Him as He is.

Verse six describes the incredible joy of a sorely-needed rainfall after a long dry spell. Petrichor is the word for the smell of rain. Nothing can be more refreshing and satisfying. That is what it will be like when Jesus reigns.

That’s truly something we can anticipate with joy!

Righteousness and Peace

Psalm 72:1-4.

 Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

He shall judge Thy people with righteousness, and Thy poor with judgment.

The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

I consulted several commentaries concerning this Psalm, as it seems to me to be, as one of David’s final psalms, a possible Messianic prophecy as well as a possible prayer for David’s son Solomon, who would succeed David on the throne of Israel. As it turns out, there are strong argument both for and against my own perception. Later in this psalm, it seems indisputable that it describes Messiah, Jesus Christ. It is possible that God was giving David both present and far future vision. It certainly isn’t the only time one of David’s psalms describes the longed-for Messiah.

Many of my sources believe that Solomon was actually the writer of this psalm, and there are strong reasons to suppose that it is so. One of the things I’m seeing more clearly, as I continue to blog through the Bible, is that there is much we don’t know, can’t know for sure, until we get to heaven.

The title of this psalm would seem to support the belief that Solomon was the writer. It is titled as A Song of Solomon. Some interpret that as A Song TO Solomon, with David as the author. Again, I just don’t know. Hebrew can be a very tricky language for us to interpret, and especially the ancient Hebrew in which the Old Testament is written.

For the sake of consistency, I’m going to go with the idea that this psalm is authored by David, and concerns both Solomon and the Messiah.

The first four verses in Psalm 72 describe a king of great wisdom; a king who will judge with righteousness, mercy, and peace. These words certainly describe King Solomon in the beginning of his reign. The reflect the heart that made the humble request to God for wisdom in I Kings 3:5-9:

5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. 6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before Thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with Thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. 7 And now, O LORD my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. 8 And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. 9 Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?

KJV Bible

When Solomon declared that he was like a little child, he was showing humility before God. He was acknowledging that he was overwhelmed by the reality of ruling over so many people, and he knew he needed the wisdom that could come only from God for the task ahead.

Verse four can easily be seen as both referring to Solomon and to the Messiah during the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. We hear a lot about social justice today; equality, equity, everyone having the same outcomes. That goal will finally be realized during the reign of Christ, and it will not come about by any human endeavor. Only when Satan is no longer the “prince of the power of the air” will we see true righteousness for everyone.

A final note: There are those who shy away from the study of the end times, fearing that we cannot understand it. I think it is important for us to know what is coming as it is given to us in God’s Word. Prophecies of the far future begin in Genesis 3: 15-16, and exist throughout the scriptures, including the major and minor prophets. To refuse to study and understand the book of Revelations is to ignore great portions of both the Old Testament and New Testament writings. At some point, I would love to dig into Daniel, Ezekiel, and some minor prophets in relation to the book of Revelations. I’m more than a little overwhelmed by that idea, but perhaps at some point I’ll tackle it.