The psalms repeat themselves. Psalms 118 and 136 begin with the same couplet, word-for-word: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (118:1, 136:1). I could cite more psalms that feature the same line throughout themselves like a chorus or that borrow lines from other psalms like remixes, but I’d be repeating myself. And while Psalm 136 repeats its hook “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” in every single verse, the point of the psalm isn’t repetition. It’s gratitude.
There’s one last thing I want to talk about concerning the minor prophets, and that’s that they came to an end. The prophets both major and minor preached their messages roughly from the 9th to the 5th century BC, but with Malachi’s prophecy somewhere around 420 BC (scholars for various reasons find it difficult to pin a date on Malachi), they stopped. If you relied solely on the Bible for your history lessons, you wouldn’t know anything from the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi up until the birth of John the Baptist in Luke. As the Old Testament as we know it today drew to a close, Jews were living in Jerusalem again, and the temple had been rebuilt, but the spirit of prophecy simply stopped manifesting.
We said some things about the Minor Prophets as a whole, but we didn’t say enough things about them, so today we’re going to say more things. By the end of the post, will we have said enough things? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s begin by seeing what Things to Say we can find in the Theodicy Can.
Congratulations to us: we’ve made our way through the corpus of the Minor Prophets in its entirety. One of my patrons on Patreon requested that I take some time to review the study and share some of my personal highlights from it. And as I’m all about servicing the customer, I’m going to dish out my big-picture reflections right now. Pledge to my Patreon and you can be a serviceable customer too!
Here’s another psalm that uses the word “thanks” a lot, at least compared to other psalms, which tend to only use it once or not at all. In the NASB’s translation, it’s 460 words long, and “thanks” appears five times. That’s just slightly more than 1% of the words, but gratitude is central to Psalm 118, to the point that the NASB summarizes it with the header “Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Saving Goodness.” I expect we could learn something about our topic of choice here, so let’s dig into the text and find out what thanks is all about.
Generally, I’ve found that coconut doesn’t have much flavor to it unless it’s in large quantities, like a Mounds bar. Eating Theo’s coconut dark chocolate is very much unlike eating a Mounds bar.
This is the last chapter of Malachi, and, in the canon’s traditional arrangement, the last chapter of the Old Testament. I can’t say for sure whether it’s also last chronologically. Some quick Googling reveals that it’s dated roughly around 500 B.C., give or take sixty years either way (thanks, Bible.org), which puts it somewhere around the Ezra-Nehemiah period. According to Ichthys.com’s chart of Biblical composition, however, it was the last book to be written down. And it ends with a short chapter, clocking in at a mere six verses. What are those verses about? Judgment and restoration.
I try not to miss the forest for one very specific tree in these posts. I try to at least hit an overview of the passage of the day, and today’s passage continues God’s charges against his people, with an accusation that Israel is straight-up robbing God as the centerpiece. But one verse caught my eye: a quick-and-dirty litany of indictments early in the chapter. If God were to put this list to music and then sing it, he might end with the line, “These are a few of my least favorite things.” If it were a Buzzfeed article, they might title it “Six Things God Will Be a Swift Witness Against, Drawing Near to You for Judgment.” But it is not an article, and God–as far as I know–has not performed it as if right out of the Sound of Music. It’s a list.
Most of Malachi 1 is an indictment of the priests of Israel, but I spent the entire post on how God hates Esau and how it is even possible that God hates something. Sometimes that happens! But the priests have been offering food that’s not copacetic and animals that are blemished, and in this chapter the priest critique continues.
Finally, an answer to the age-old philosophical question: does God hate anyone? We’re just three verses into the book of Malachi when he divulges that God hates Esau. But this revelation only raises further questions. Is God mad at Esau for trading his birthright to Jacob? Is it because Esau married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite? Is it simply that he was too hairy? And more importantly, how can a God who is Love possibly hate anyone, much less a grandson of the patriarch Abraham?