Five Old Testament texts we need to pay attention to when acting on behalf of vulnerable children

Five OT texts about vulnerable childrenI am convinced that the most helpful way of thinking biblically about fostering, adoption and the plight of vulnerable children is to develop a whole-Bible approach or framework for doing so. One of the purposes of this blog, therefore, is look across the whole of Scripture and point to passages that will contribute to such a project.

As a way of whetting the appetite, here are five texts from five different parts of the Old Testament that relate to vulnerable children in one way or another. I won’t comment on them today but will do so in future posts. Needless to say, I could have picked dozens!!

Which parts of the Bible do you most associate with the Church’s engagement with vulnerable children?

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

2 Kings 5:1-5

1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favour, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valour, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

Job 31:16

16 “If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,

17 or have eaten my morsel alone,
and the fatherless has not eaten of it

18 (for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow),

19 if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
or the needy without covering,

20 if his body has not blessed me,
and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,

21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
because I saw my help in the gate,

22 then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
and let my arm be broken from its socket.

23 For I was in terror of calamity from God,
and I could not have faced his majesty.

Psalm 10

1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2  In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised…

8 He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

9  he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.

10  The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.

11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.

13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?

14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16 The Lord is king for ever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.

17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Isaiah 1

11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.

12 “When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?

13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,

17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

(all quotes are from the ESV)

Advertisements

About timjdavy

I teach and research on Bible and Mission at Redcliffe College and lead the 'Bible and Mission' and 'Scripture Engagement' streams of our MA in Contemporary Missiology. I am the Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission, and also lead Redcliffe's 'Fostering, Adoption and the Church' research project, .
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Five Old Testament texts we need to pay attention to when acting on behalf of vulnerable children

  1. Simon Davies says:

    I am enjoying reading these posts, they are helping me think about how the Bible speaks to the church on theses issues.
    It would be interesting to find out how often the phrase “justice for the fatherless” is used in the OT!
    In answer to the question a the end of the post – I tend to use a combination of James 1v27 and Romans 8v15 – pure and faultless religion is to look after orphans and widows, as well as the “spirit of adoption” which God gave us, when I speak about the importance of adoption and fostering in the church. (I am sure these are not new to you!)

    Like

  2. timjdavy says:

    Thanks for your encouragement and comment, Simon. Those are crucial verses and play an important part of the kind of framework I referred to in the post. I’ll post a lot more on the subject, including something on the frequency and use of ‘justice for the fatherless’ in the OT. So watch this space and thanks again for the feedback!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s