We are in the Torah series titled The Covenant of God – Repentance Series –
Most people who believe in the Lord God of Israel and in Yeshua His Messiah want to grow spiritually. Coupled with spiritual growth is also to mature in faith. The apostle Paul describes this as “to be like Christ.” Many however do not seem to understand what this means or how this is accomplished in living a daily repentant life style. In Tehillim / Psalms 108, the Psalmist opens saying, א שִׁיר מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד: ב נָכוֹן לִבִּי אֱלֹהִים אָשִׁירָה וַאֲזַמְּרָה אַף-כְּבוֹדִי: A song. A psalm of David. 108:1 My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. (NASB) What does David mean that he will sing praises to the Lord even with his soul? What is it about the soul that makes this so significant? Note how this draws out an important point in relation to how some people understand repentance. Is repentance lived in a So’odic context (Zohar mysticism) in the sense that repentance is a desire that is not associated with the physical realm? The soul (nefesh) does not have a mouth in the sense that we can audibly hear our own spiritual voice. The nefesh is connected to our physical body, and as a result of the longing for our soul to praise the Lord, the praise of our souls become words which are expressed audibly for all to hear. David’s words “even my soul” (אַף-כְּבוֹדִי) is written in a peculiar way which translates literally as “even my glory” as he uses the root word כבד in reference to his soul. The significance of his words אַף-כְּבוֹדִי is in the reference to “my glory.” Note how the glory of a man is in his heart. Man glorifies himself over and above others in his heart. This is a very easy thing to do and is something the Lord wants us to avoid. David states “by his glory,” which is translated as “his soul,” to say even his glory gives praises unto the Lord. This is important because it is only the one who humbles his soul (humbling his own glory) who is able to give praises unto the Lord by that which would rather set itself up to receive glory. Humbleness and repentance are key! In this week’s Torah portion, Joseph was testing whether his brothers had changed, whether they had humbled their souls? Joseph did not take a So’odic approach to the testing of his brothers. He treated them in a particular way to see whether they had truly repented of their wicked ways, and to see how they would react, whether they would try to save themselves, or lay down their lives for one another? In today’s world, there are a lot of self-help shortcuts that people try in an attempt to improve themselves. Some even look for an emotional experience, such as are some in the Pentecostal movement who seek a healing or a tongues experience over and above drawing near unto the Lord, and seeking first His Kingdom. It is thought by achieving these things, all problems may be solved and one may finally have become a “mature Christian.” In reality, this only emphasizes one’s immaturity in faith. In the Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:22 we read “Ben Bag Bag says: Turn it and turn it, since everything is in it. And in it should you look, and grow old and be worn; and from it do not move, since there is no characteristic greater than it.” What is the “it” that the Mishnah is likely referring to? Is this not a reference to the Scriptures, that which is a lifelong endeavor whereby laboring in the Scriptures changes us and our perceptions of the world. This process of studying the Scriptures also involves more than just reading the words of a text, it also involves reflection coupled with a practical interaction with the text in our lives. The on-going encounter with the biblical text gives each of us an opportunity to renew ourselves, to grow as individuals, and to strengthen our communal connections with one another which directly impacts our relationship with the Lord God of Israel. This is what it means to grow spiritually and learn to be mature in our faith. Let’s discuss this further in this week’s study!