A Meditation on Matthew 10: 16

Kevin J Youngblood

I am sending you out sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be as prudent as serpents and as incorruptible as doves.

(Matt 10:16)

Sheep, wolves, serpents, and doves. Seldom in one brief verse of Scripture has such an odd menagerie of animals come together. Jesus’ saying employs two opposing pairs of animals to convey vividly and memorably the dangers and difficulties that await disciples who take his mission seriously. Christians live in a world of wolves and yet we are told to be sheep. We are told to go unarmed as we make our way in this world bearing witness to the work of Christ (Matt 10:9, note that they are to carry no defensive staff that shepherds used to ward off predators).


A Meditation on Psalm 58

Kevin J Youngblood

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Miktam of David.

Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?

Do you judge the children of man uprightly?

No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;

your hands deal out violence on earth.

The wicked are estranged from the womb;

they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

They have venom like the venom of a serpent,

like the deaf adder that stops its ear,

so that it does not hear the voice of charmers

or of the cunning enchanter.

O God, break the teeth in their mouths;

tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!

Let them vanish like water that runs away;

when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted.

Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime,

like the stillborn child who never sees the sun.

Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,

whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!

10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;

he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.

11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;

surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

I was struck this morning by the irony of the heading of this psalm in the light of its content. This is one of those psalms I’ve commented on before that begins with the strange heading “Do not destroy.” The psalmist, however, goes on to beg God to destroy the wicked and to do so immediately and decisively! In the English translation I have cited above, the phrase “Do not destroy” is interpreted as a tune to which the psalm is sung. Nothing in the Hebrew text suggests this, however, as is usually the case with this heading when it precedes a psalm (Pss 57, 59, & 75 are the other occurrences of this strange heading).
Why would a psalm with the heading “Do not destroy” be filled with requests for destruction?


A Meditation on Romans 15: 30

Kevin J Youngblood

“I beg you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord, Jesus the Messiah, and through the love of the Spirit, to strive hard with me in your prayers to God on my behalf . . .” (Romans 15:30)

When I was a boy, I remember we often sang the hymn “There is a Balm in Gilead.” A line from that hymn has stuck with me through the years and I have often thought about it. The line is “If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul . . .” As a boy, I always wondered why Paul was singled out for his prayer life. Now, as an adult, having read all of Paul’s writings, I think I understand why. Paul had a most remarkable theology of prayer – the kind of theology that can only emerge from experience, from the determined and ceaseless practice of prayer.

This is not only evident in the obvious places, the places where Paul writes down his prayers at the beginning of his letters, or the places where Paul is explicitly teaching on prayer. It is also evident in the unexpected places, the places where Paul’s profundity catches us of guard and by surprise, such as in his laundry lists of pedestrian commands and instructions at the close of his letters.


A Meditation on Psalm 31

Kevin J Youngblood

Blessed be the Lord,

for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me

when I was in a besieged city.

22 I had said in my alarm,

“I am cut off from your sight.”

But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy

when I cried to you for help.

(Psalm 31:21-22)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about besieged cities. Two in particular have been on my mind: Jerusalem and Mariupol. Mariupol, of course, has recently been in the news due to its near total destruction at the hands of the Russian military. Jerusalem’s siege and destruction is on my mind because I am currently writing a commentary on Lamentations. So it caught my attention when reading Psalm 31 that the psalmist endured the experience of living in a besieged city. I assume the psalmist is referring to Sennacherib’s (in)famous siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC that ended with YHWH’s miraculous intervention and Sennacherib’s retreat.

I wonder whether certain insights would ever dawn on us were we never “besieged.”


A Meditation on Matthew 24

Kevin J Youngblood

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:23-28)

I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but Christ has been cloned. Not just once or twice, mind you, but cloned myriads of times.


A Meditation on Deuteronomy 3 : 18-20

Kevin J Youngblood

18 “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. 19 Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, 20 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ (Deuteronomy 3:18 – 20)

Nobody rests until everybody rests. This just about sums up Moses’ instructions to the trans-Jordan tribes whose inheritance was distributed and settled well before the other nine-and-a-half tribes. Israel had not even crossed the Jordan yet. Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had requested and been granted lush grasslands east of the Jordan gorge. I prefer not to speculate what their motives were, but I can see how some might suspect that they were hoping to get out of the ugly business of encroaching on Canaanite territory and confronting a corrupt culture. Who needs the headache, not to mention the bad press, of trying to overturn sinful systems of oppression to make way for God’s just and equitable kingdom?