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The love of a mother for her children is a very special kind of love. Second Samuel 21 provides an account that instructively reveals to us the glory of one mother’s love for her children.

Losing Children through Judicial Execution

Because Saul had slain the Gibeonites, God informed David that He had afflicted the land with a famine (2 Sam. 21:1). David inquired of the Gibeonites about what they would have him do to atone for Saul’s grievous sin (2 Sam. 21:2-3).

The Gibeonites told David that they wanted him to deliver seven descendants of Saul to them so that they could “hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah” (2 Sam. 21:4-6). David complied with their request by giving them two sons of Rizpah that she bore to Saul and five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul (2 Sam. 21:7-9a).

The Gibeonites “hanged them in the hill before the LORD” at the beginning of the barley harvest:

2 Samuel 21:9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

What Rizpah then did after the execution of her sons reveals something special about her love for them as their mother.

A Mother’s Ongoing Love for Her Children

Even though her sons were dead, Rizpah continued to protect their dead bodies for an extended time:

2 Samuel 21:10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

Out of her ongoing love for her children, she did not allow either the birds or the beasts of the field to prey on their dead bodies. One wonders what all it must have entailed for her especially to be able to keep wild beasts from devouring their dead bodies by night!

She displayed the glory of her love as a mother by all that she did to protect the dead bodies of her sons.

Application

Even though the spirits had long departed from the dead bodies of her sons, Rizpah lovingly protected their bodies from scavengers. Her actions show that she certainly did not believe that the dead bodies of her sons were merely empty shells of very little or no worth.

Her actions teach us that we must understand that the dead bodies of our loved ones are still special and worthy of loving treatment and protection. They are not essentially worthless, empty shells to be disposed of by whatever means are most convenient for us.

Learning from what Rizpah did for the dead bodies of her sons out of her glorious love for them, we should reject all means of the disposing of the dead bodies of our loved ones that unnaturally destroy those bodies. Cremation and other manmade destructive means of the disposing of human bodies after death have no legitimate place in the lives of those who continue to love their own after their loved ones have died.

Instead, we should choose to bury the dead bodies of our loved ones as a display of our love of loyalty to them even after they have died.


See also Three Reasons Why Cremation is Unbiblical

The Biblical Importance of a Proper Burial

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Is it important to study the Bible in its original languages? An examination of James 3:2 in both English and Greek provides a clear example that answers this question decisively.

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

A normal, natural reading of the beginning of this verse in English would lead one to believe that James teaches that in many things we offend all people, that is, we offend everybody, everyone etc. That reading regards “all” as the direct object of the verb “offend,” which is what a proper understanding of normal English grammar and syntax would indicate for that phrasing.

An examination of the original text, however, shows that this is a wrong understanding of what James teaches. Regardless of which Greek manuscript families we look at (BGT, BYZ, or SCR), the original reading is the same—the Greek word (ἅπαντες) that is rendered “all” in the verse is in a Greek case (the nominative case) that is *never* the direct object of a verb.

BGT James 3:2 πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες. εἴ τις ἐν λόγῳ οὐ πταίει, οὗτος τέλειος ἀνὴρ δυνατὸς χαλιναγωγῆσαι καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα.

BYZ James 3:2 Πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες. Εἴ τις ἐν λόγῳ οὐ πταίει, οὗτος τέλειος ἀνήρ, δυνατὸς χαλιναγωγῆσαι καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα.

SCR James 3:2 πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες. εἴ τις ἐν λόγῳ οὐ πταίει, οὗτος τέλειος ἀνήρ, δυνατὸς χαλιναγωγῆσαι καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα.

The correct understanding of the first part of James 3:2, therefore, is that we all offend in many things—it is not that we offend all people, everyone, etc.

This is a clear example that shows how reading the Bible in the original languages can greatly help us to interpret it correctly!

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Bible Reading Report for 2023

December 31, 2023

I finished reading through the Bible for 2023 this morning!

Because I taught an adult Sunday School class at my church this Fall, my reading of Scripture this year was heavily focused on the books that were covered in that class (indicated by * below).

Genesis—2 Kings – 1x each

*1 Chronicles / *2 Chronicles / *Ezra – 2x each

*Nehemiah / *Esther – 4x each

Job / Proverbs / Ecclesiastes / Song of Solomon – 1x each except for Psalms, which I read 12x

*Isaiah – 3x

*Jeremiah / *Lamentations / *Ezekiel – 2x each

*Daniel – 4x

Hosea – 1x

*Joel – 15x

Amos – 1x

*Obadiah – 5x

*Jonah – 7x

*Micah – 8x

*Nahum – 7x

*Habakkuk / *Zephaniah – 9x each

*Haggai – 3x

*Zechariah – 4x

*Malachi – 10x

Matthew—Revelation 1x each

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

We live in a day when more and more believers are choosing cremation instead of burial. Scripture, however, provides abundant revelation that shows that burial and not cremation is the right choice for every believer to make.

This post treats a premier reason for choosing burial instead of cremation. It does so by applying Micah 6:8 to what Scripture reveals about the importance of burial in 2 Samuel 2:4-6.

What Loyal People Do for a Deceased Person

When the men of Jabeshgilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul and to his sons, they acted at great personal cost (“went all night”) to ensure that Saul and his sons would be buried:

1 Samuel 31:11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; 12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. 13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Later, king David was informed of what these men had done:

2 Samuel 2:4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah. And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabeshgilead were they that buried Saul.

When David learned of what they had done, David declared that what they had done to bury1 Saul showed kindness (Heb. hesed) to Saul:

 2 Samuel 2:5 And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabeshgilead, and said unto them, Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed this kindness [hesed] unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him. 6 And now the LORD shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing.

Holladay defines hesed as ‘loyalty’ (A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 111). We thus learn from Scripture that burying a deceased person is how we show our loyalty to him.

God Requires Us to Love Loyalty

One of the most famous passages in Scripture teaches us that God requires us to love mercy (hesed):

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy [hesed], and to walk humbly with thy God?

This passage that instructs believers to love hesed shows us that God requires that we love loyalty.

Applying Micah 6:8 to 2 Samuel 2:4-6

God has instructed us that He requires that we love loyalty (Micah 6:8). He has also revealed that loyalty to a deceased person is shown by burying that person (2 Sam. 2:4-6).

In obedience to God, therefore, believers should show that they love loyalty by burying a deceased person. Burial—not cremation—is the right thing for all believers to do for a deceased person.

Conclusion

Let us choose burial to display our love of loyalty to a deceased person.


1 See my post Three Reasons for Why Cremation Is Unbiblical for an explanation of why the account in 1 Samuel 31:11-13 does not support cremation at all.

Picture Credit: M. Shires

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Nehemiah was an exemplary leader of God’s people. He was a devoted servant of God who repeatedly asked God to remember him for good because of what he had done for the sake of the things of God.

Two statements that Nehemiah made in his requests to King Artaxerxes when he requested permission of him to rebuild Jerusalem stress for us the importance of burial in a way that many may have overlooked:

Neh. 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?

Neh. 2:5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

Jerusalem was the place where God’s house was. Surely, Nehemiah regarded the place of God’s house to be of surpassing importance.

Nonetheless, Nehemiah did not say that he was sad because the city, the place of God’s house, lay waste and had its gates consumed with fire. Nor did Nehemiah request permission from the king to build the city because it was the city of his God’s house.

Remarkably, instead, he said that he was sad that Jerusalem lay waste with its gates consumed with fire—and he sought the king’s permission to build the city—because it was the place of his fathers’ sepulchers! For Nehemiah, what made Jerusalem of special importance was not just that God’s house was there—it was that Jerusalem was the place where his forefathers were buried in their tombs!

He later implicitly stresses the same point for the readers of Nehemiah by writing about what another Nehemiah repaired:

Neh. 3:16 After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of the half part of Bethzur, unto the place over against the sepulchres of David, and to the pool that was made, and unto the house of the mighty.

By mentioning explicitly “the place over against the sepulchres of David” in this statement, Nehemiah made known whose sepulchres were of special importance to him.

Conclusion

Nehemiah’s heart for the place where his fathers were buried instructs us that such places of biblical burial is what godly people should choose for themselves and for their own.


Honoring our loved ones by burying them is the right thing to do.


See also The Biblical Importance of a Proper Burial

Three Reasons Why Cremation is Unbiblical

Picture Credit: M. Shires

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Today, I finished teaching my part of the second half of an adult Sunday School series, “Written for Our Admonition: A Survey of the Old Testament.” Reading books of the Bible repeatedly was a key part of my preparation for teaching that series.

The following table shows how many times I read each of the books that I covered in the series and the dates when I finished reading them.

1 Chronicles 6/19; 11/4 2
2 Chronicles 7/6; 11/5 2
Ezra 8/19; 11/10 2
Nehemiah 8/21; 11/24; 11/28; 12/1 4
Esther 8/24; 11/22; 11/25; 11/26 4
Isaiah 4/17; 9/19; 9/23 3
Jeremiah 5/25; 10/14 2
Lamentations 6/3; 10/14 2
Ezekiel 8/6; 10/20 2
Daniel 8/10; 10/26; 10/28; 10/29 4
Joel 7/31 (2x); 8/20; 8/24; 8/25; 8/28; 8/31; 9/1; 9/2 (2x); 9/3; 9/4; 9/7; 9/8; 9/10 15
Obadiah 8/9; 8/24; 9/4; 9/7; 9/10 5
Jonah 8/12; 8/24; 9/5; 9/7; 9/11; 9/15 (2x) 7
Micah 8/12; 9/25; 9/26; 9/29; 9/30 (3x); 10/1 8
Nahum 8/13; 8/24; 9/5; 9/7; 9/11; 9/15 (2x) 7
Habakkuk 8/13; 9/25; 10/2; 10/3; 10/4; 10/5; 10/6; 10/7; 10/8 9
Zephaniah 8/13; 9/25; 10/2; 10/3; 10/4; 10/5; 10/6; 10/7; 10/8 9
Haggai 8/13; 11/10; 11/12 3
Zechariah 8/14; 11/17; 11/18 (2x) 4
Malachi 8/15; 11/25; 11/29; 12/2; 12/3; 12/4; 12/7; 12/8; 12/9; 12/10 10

This fall has been the most concentrated time that I have ever had in reading the Minor Prophets. I found this intense time of reading these books to be very profitable and highly recommend using such an approach to studying them.

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Over the years, several brethren have given me permission to post their salvation testimonies on my blog. These testimonies abundantly give praise to God the Father for His glory in saving people.

Anonymous by request – A Vital Question to Consider: Are You Really Saved?

Anonymous from an unknown source – Un testimonio anónimo de la salvación

Mr. Homer Chinn – The Salvation Testimony of Homer Chinn

Mrs. Stephanie Heimann – A Grace Story: Stephanie Heimann’s Testimony for Baptism

Dr. Mary Kraus – HEDONIST CONVERTED: What Really Matters

Dr. Yoh Shirato – “From Japan with Love”: Yoh Shirato’s Testimony

I also praise God for what He has done in saving me:

How I Became a Christian

Cómo me convertí en un cristiano

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

What Is Worldliness?

November 22, 2023

I have been thinking a lot lately about what Scripture teaches about Christians, the world, and worldliness (see the discussion that I recently started on Sharper Iron). This is a subject that I have never studied in-depth.

Based on Pastor Minnick’s four messages so far in his series, “Out of, Not of, Into the World,” and on my own recent study, I have come up with the following working understanding concerning worldliness:


1 Here are some key passages that have helped shape my present thinking about this subject: John 17; Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:13; James 4:1-12; 2 Peter 2:19-20; and 1 John 2:15-17.

2 As God directs, I probably will be editing and adding to this post as I continue to study this subject.

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Does the Bible teach that having a burial is important? Scripture has much to say about that issue, including a key statement by Solomon:

Ecclesiastes 6:3 If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

Although Ecclesiastes 6:3 speaks explicitly about not having a burial as a very bad thing, some believers today hold that the verse is not talking about having a burial per se. Rather, they hold that the verse is teaching about the importance of not having a funeral and not necessarily the importance of a person’s not being buried.

Lamenting and Mourning Distinguished from Being Buried

Examining the following passages that speak about burial shows us that this interpretation is wrong because all the passages distinguish lamenting and mourning for the dead loved one, which is typically a very important part of funerals, from burying that loved one:

Gen. 50:7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt . . . 10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days . . . 13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

1 Sam. 25:1 And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

1 Sam. 28:3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.

2 Sam. 3:32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.

2 Sam. 3:33 And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

2 Chr. 35:24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.

2 Chr. 35:25 And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.

Acts 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.

Moreover, other passages clearly distinguish lamenting and mourning for dead people from burying them by revealing that none of these proper actions that are distinct from one another would be done for them:

Jer. 16:4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.

Jer. 16:5 For thus saith the LORD, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament nor bemoan them: for I have taken away my peace from this people, saith the LORD, even lovingkindness and mercies. 6 Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:

Jer. 25:33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

Conclusion

Scripture plainly teaches us that burying someone is distinct from lamenting and mourning his death. Based on what all these passages teach, Ecclesiastes 6:3 does not speak (merely) of how bad it is for a person to not have a funeral—it greatly stresses just how bad it is for a person not in actuality to be buried!


See also my post Three Reasons Why Cremation Is Unbiblical

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

“Christ is Risen! Hallelujah!” by John S.B. Monsell is a hymn about Christ’s resurrection and exaltation that I do not remember ever singing before this year. I have been blessed in singing this hymn in my devotions on several mornings this year!

Christ is risen! Hallelujah! Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah! Christ is risen from the dead.
Gratefully our hearts adore Him as His light once more appears,
Bowing down in joy before Him, Rising up from grief and tears.

Christ is risen! Hallelujah! Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah! Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ is risen! all the sadness of His earthly life is o’er;
Thro’ the open gates of gladness He returns to life once more;
Death and hell before Him bending, He doth rise, the Victor now;
Angels, on His steps attending, glory ’round His wounded brow.

Christ is risen! Hallelujah! Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah! Christ is risen from the dead.

Christ is risen! henceforth never death or hell shall us enthral;
We are Christ’s, in Him for ever we have triumphed over all;

All the doubting and dejection of our trembling hearts have ceased;
‘Tis His day of resurrection, let us rise and keep the feast.

Christ is risen! Hallelujah! Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah! Christ is risen from the dead.

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.