Daily Psalms – Psalm 66

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 66-70

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.

Psalm 66:1-2 NIV

I love Psalm 66. It is a wonderful song of praise, but different than you might expect. You see, we tend to praise God for the good times. The psalmist here praises God for the good times, and praises God for causing the bad times!

For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.

Psalm 66:10-12 NIV

Notice that the psalmist says it was God who “brought us” into some terribly painful situations. These led to refining (removing all the impurities), and eventually to a place of abundance.

We love to praise God for the mountaintops, but we rarely praise him for the valleys. The psalmist tells us to not only praise him for the valleys, but praise him while we’re in the valleys!

I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
and fulfill my vows to you —
vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
when I was in trouble.

Psalm 66:13-14 NIV

Even in the darkest moments of trouble, we should be committing to worship. Even when we don’t know how the situation will turn out, we commit ourselves to praising our God. No matter the highest highs or the lowest lows, we commit ourselves to our God.

Praise be to God!

Phoebe: Female Deacon

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae.

Romans 16:1 NIV

The English word “deacon” is really not a word, but rather a transliteration of the Greek word diakonos. In the NIV diakonos is translated 19 times as “servant,” 4 times as “deacon,” 4 times as minister, once each as “attendants” and the verb “promotes.” Again, the most common translation is “servant” with “deacon” and “minister” tied for second.

What do we make of this? One could try to argue that Phoebe isn’t really a “deacon”, but rather a “servant” as we all should be. That’s fine, but it’s the same Greek word used to discuss the qualities of “deacons” in 1 Timothy 3. Whether you want to make the word servant, minister, or deacon…it’s all the same word in Greek – diakonos.

We, in our English translations, attempt to draw differences between these various distinctions. Greek does not. Whether we’re being told that “The greatest among you will be your diakonos,” (Mt. 23:11), or “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a diakonos…”, it’s the same word.

Some may say they have been taught that only men are allowed to be “deacons.” This obviously comes with a partial understanding of the word deacon, seeing as Christ himself has called us all to be diakonos (Jn. 12:26). But let’s look at the text in 1 Timothy 3:11.

“In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.”

1 Timothy 3:11 NIV

If gynaikis is translated as “wives” instead of “women” (as some translations do) you might assume that there is no authorization for a woman to be a diakonos. The obvious problem here is that we do have a woman diakonos in the New Testament.

But if taken as the NIV translates this passage, it is clear that Paul has a specific stipulation for the female diakonos to not be malicious talkers. Does this make sense within the context of 1 Timothy? Yes it does!

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

1 Timothy 5:11-15 NIV

Seems like Paul knew Timothy had a problem in Ephesus with some women who were malicious talkers “saying things they ought not to.” That’s not the type of person the church needs as a diakonos to other believers.

Diakonos – servant, minister, deacon. It’s the same word. And we have examples of males and females doing this work in the New Testament church. For now, what can we learn from Paul’s writing?

(To read about female deacons within the American Restoration Movement, look at Distant Voices by Leonard Allen, God’s Woman by C.R. Nichol, or The Stone-Campbell Movement by Leroy Garrett.)