Thursday, July 18, 2013

Smelling - A Profession?

Have you ever given much thought to the warnings that Samuel gave to the people of Israel before God appointed Saul as king? (1 Samuel 8) Among the warnings he told them that a king was going to take their daughters and make them perfumers, bakers, etc. But, the people didn't care. They wanted a king.

All these years I thought that was a bad thing. . .for Saul to take their daughters and force them to do these things for the king's family and court. I mean it's mentioned in the middle of the list warning the people of how bad things will get for them. But according to the Chronological Study Bible, it may not have been such a bad thing after all.

To be a perfumer was to have a profession. And a highly respected and sought after profession. There were even priests who were perfumers.

Apparently the perfumers had to know all the oils and lotions available to mankind. And, since they came from a variety of countries around the known world they had to know where each came from. And when to use what. And how to concoct and apply preparations. . .such as, which oils should be used to soften the skin and hair from the damage done by the sun. Or, to help you sleep. Or, bring healing to a sore. And, let's not forget all the ingredients needed for preparing royalty for their tombs. That's a lot to know and learn.

I had no idea that a good nose could be a prized possession in those days. I can see how the people may have thought that was not such a bad thing, the king taking a daughter to be a perfumer. It'd be like having a doctor in the family.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Than Just Salt

When I think of salt, I think of food. It brings flavor to any dish. And food stands out as bland if you forget to add it. On the other hand, I've eaten at many restaurants where I wondered if the lid fell of the salt container during use. The food was so salty it began to burn my tongue after awhile.

When I read about salt in the Bible it's not always about food. Leviticus, Ezra and Ezekiel mention the people were to include salt in their offerings at the temple.  Matthew 5, 9 and Luke 14 speak of our needing to be salt because if we're not salt then we're useless. Matthew 9 even encourages having salt and peace within us as something to desire and achieve. Colossians 4 speaks of salt being part of our graceful speech to one another.

Those things I knew about. But, there's more. Judges 9 shows salt as part of the completing act of destroying an enemy. In 2 Kings, salt is used to heal water in the land. Hello, how did I miss these? And those aren't the only things I missed.

Did you know there is such a thing as a salt covenant? Do you know what that is? When I caught up on my reading of the Jewish Jewels newsletter (May 2013 issue) I learned about a salt covenant. If I ever attended a class or sermon on this subject, I slept through the whole lesson.

A salt covenant refers to loyalty in relationships according to Neil and Jamie Lash. The reference goes back to Numbers 18:19 when God says its a salt covenant between him and the priests that will last forever. That's the relation and loyalty part of salt. The Lashes state that in some desert tribes salt is placed in the hands of a bride and groom when they marry - making it part of the marriage bond. The Lashes say being salt is really about our relationships with other believers.

So when we're told to be the salt and light of the earth there's a lot riding on that statement. It's not about pounding our fists on the Bible and proclaiming God's curses on the wicked. We're to stand out as holding on to something that brings healing, as preserving God's rightful place in our lives, as continuing in his presence so that his salt doesn't fade from the view of others. And we're to be loyal about it, not jumping from one thing to another when we get bored.

Being consistent in all of that is tough. But my God is able to help me, and you, do this.