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halak OT:1980, "to go, walk, behave." This verb appears in most Semitic languages (although it has a different meaning in Arabic). It is attested in all periods of Hebrew. Old Testament Hebrew attests it about 1,550 times, while the Aramaic uses it a few times.
Essentially, this root refers to movement without any suggestion of direction in the sense of going, whether of man Genesis 9:23, beasts Genesis 3:14, or inanimate objects Genesis 2:14 — the first occurrence of the word. In cases other than men (where it means "to walk") halak may be translated "to go." It is used sometimes with a special emphasis on the end or goal of the action in mind; men are but flesh, "a wind that passeth [goes] away, and cometh not again" Psalms 78:39. Applied to human existence the word suggests "going to one's death," as in Genesis 15:2, when Abraham says: "O Lord God, what wilt thou give me, since I am [going to my death] childless...?" (NASB). This verb can also be used of one's behavior, or the way one "walks in life." So he who "walks" uprightly shall be blessed of God Isaiah 33:15. This does not refer to walking upright on one's feet but to living a righteous life.
This root is used in various other special ways. It may be used to emphasize that a certain thing occurred; Jacob went and got the kid his mother requested, in other words, he actually did the action Genesis 27:14. In Genesis 8:3 the waters of the flood steadily receded from the surface of the earth. Sometimes this verb implies movement away from, as in Genesis 18:33, when the Lord "departed" from Abraham.
God is said to "walk" or "go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God "walking" to and fro in the garden of Eden Genesis 3:8. He "walks" on the clouds Psalms 104:3 or in the heavens Job 22:14; these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people Exodus 33:14, to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt 2 Samuel 7:23, and to come to save them Psalms 80:2. The idea of God's "going" ("walking") before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud Exodus 13:21 leads to the idea that His people must "walk" behind Him Deuteronomy 13:5. Quite often the people are said to have "walked" or to be warned against "walking behind" foreign gods Deuteronomy 4:3. Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to "walking behind" Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that "walking behind" pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also "walk... after the imagination of their evil heart," or act stubbornly Jeremiah 3:17. The pious followed or practiced God's commands; they "walked" in righteousness Isaiah 33:15, in humility Micah 6:8, and in integrity Psalms 15:2. They also "walk with God" Genesis 5:22, and they live in His presence, and "walk before" Him Genesis 17:1, in the sense of living responsibly before Him.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
That we ought to give ourselves to God with regard to things both temporal and spiritual, and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling His will, whether He lead us by suffering, or by consolation, for all would be equal to a Soul truly resigned. Prayer is nothing else but a sense of God's presence. - Brother Lawrence
Be sure you look to your secret duty; keep that up whatever you do. The soul cannot prosper in the neglect of it. Apostasy generally begins at the closet door. Be much in secret fellowship with God. It is secret trading that enriches the Christian.
Pray alone. Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt at night. The best way to fight against sin is to fight it on our knees. - Philip Henry
The prayer of faith is the only power in the universe to which the Great Jehovah yields. Prayer is the sovereign remedy. - Robert Hall
An hour of solitude passed in sincere and earnest prayer, or the conflict with and conquest over a single passion or subtle bosom sin will teach us more of thought, will more effectually awaken the faculty and form the habit of reflection than a year's study in the schools without them. - Coleridge
A man may pray night and day and deceive himself, but no man can be assured of his sincerity who does not pray. Prayer is faith passing into act. A union of the will and intellect realising in an intellectual act. It is the whole man that prays. Less than this is wishing or lip work, a sham or a mummery.
If God should restore me again to health I have determined to study nothing but the Bible. Literature is inimical to spirituality if it be not kept under with a firm hand. - Richard Cecil
Our sanctification does not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God's. sake which we commonly do for our own. The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer. Prayer is nothing else but a sense of the presence of God. - Brother Lawrence
Let me burn out for God. After all, whatever God may appoint, prayer is the great thing. Oh that I may be a man of prayer. - Henry Martyn
The possibilities and necessity of prayer, its power and results are manifested in arresting and changing the purposes of God and in relieving the stroke of His power. Abimelech was smitten by God:
So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid-servants; and they bare children.
For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.
Job's miserable, mistaken, comforters had so deported themselves in their controversy with Job that God's wrath was kindled against them. 'My servant Job shall pray for you,' said God, 'for him will I accept.'
'And the Lord turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.'
Jonah was in dire condition when 'the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest.' When lots were cast, 'the lot fell upon Jonah.' He was cast overboard into the sea, but 'the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah ... Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish's belly ... and the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.'
When the disobedient prophet lifted up his voice in prayer, God heard and sent deliverance.
Pharaoh was a firm believer in the possibilities of prayer, and its ability to relieve. When staggering under the woeful curses of God, he pleaded with Moses to intercede for him. 'Intreat the Lord for me,' was his pathetic appeal four times repeated when the plagues were scourging Egypt. Four times were these urgent appeals made to Moses, and four times did prayer lift the dread curse from the hard king and his doomed land.
The blasphemy and idolatry of Israel in making the golden calf and declaring their devotions to it were a fearful crime. The anger of God waxed hot, and He declared that He would destroy the offending people. The Lord was very wroth with Aaron also, and to Moses He said, 'Let Me alone that I may destroy them' - But Moses prayed, and kept on praying; day and night he prayed forty days. He makes the record of his prayer struggle. 'I fell down,' he says, 'before the Lord at the first forty days and nights; I did neither eat bread nor drink water because of your sins which ye sinned in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure wherewith the Lord was hot against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened to me at this time also. And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him. And I prayed for him also at the same time.'
'Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. It was the purpose of God to destroy that great and wicked city. But Nineveh prayed, covered with sackcloth; sitting in ashes she cried 'mightily to God,' and 'God repented of the evil that He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.'
The message of God to Hezekiah was: 'Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live.' Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, and said: 'Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.' And Hezekiah wept sore. God said to Isaiah, 'Go, say to Hezekiah, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.'
These men knew how to pray and how to prevail in prayer. Their faith in prayer was no passing attitude that changed with the wind or with their own feelings and circumstances; it was a fact that God heard and answered, that His ear was ever open to the cry of His children, and that the power to do what was asked of Him was commensurate with His willingness. And thus these men, strong in faith and in prayer, 'subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, waxed mighty in war, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.'
Everything then, as now, was possible to the men and women who knew how to pray. Prayer, indeed, opened a limitless storehouse, and God's hand withheld nothing. Prayer introduced those who practised it into a world of privilege, and brought the strength and wealth of heaven down to the aid of finite man. What rich and wonderful power was theirs who had learned the secret of victorious approach to God! With Moses it saved a nation; with Ezra it saved a church.
And yet, strange as it seems when we contemplate the wonders of which God's people had been witness, there came a slackness in prayer. The mighty hold upon God, that had so often struck awe and terror into the hearts of their enemies, lost its grip. The people, backslidden and apostate, had gone off from their praying - if the bulk of them had ever truly prayed. The Pharisee's cold and lifeless praying was substituted for any genuine approach to God, and because of that formal method of praying the whole worship became a parody of its real purpose. A glorious dispensation, and gloriously executed, was it by Moses, by Ezra, by Daniel and Elijah, by Hannah and Samuel; but the circle seems limited and shortlived; the praying ones were few and far between. They had no survivors, none to imitate their devotion to God, none to preserve the roll of the elect.
In vain had the decree established the Divine order, the Divine call. Ask of Me. From the earnest and fruitful crying to God they turned their faces to pagan gods , and cried in vain for the answers that could never come. And so they sank into that godless and pitiful state that has lost its object in life when the link with the Eternal has been broken. Their favoured dispensation of prayer was forgotten; they knew not how to pray.
What a contrast to the achievements that brighten up other pages of holy writ. The power working through Elijah and Elisha in answer to prayer reached down even to the very grave. In each case a child was raised from the dead, and the powers of famine were broken. 'The supplications of a righteous man avail much.' Elijah was a man of like passions with us. He prayed fervently that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Jonah prayed while imprisoned in the great fish, and he came to dry land, saved from storm and sea and monsters of the deep by the mighty energy of his praying.
How wide the gracious provision of the grace of praying as administered in that marvellous dispensation. They prayed wondrously. Why could not their praying save the dispensation from decay and death? Was it not because they lost the fire without which all praying degenerates into a lifeless form? It takes effort and toil and care to prepare the incense. Prayer is no laggard's work. When all the rich, spiced graces from the body of prayer have by labour and beating been blended and refined and intermixed, the fire is needed to unloose the incense and make its fragrance rise to the throne of God. The fire that consumes creates the spirit and life of the incense. Without fire prayer has no spirit; it is, like dead spices, for corruption and worms.
The casual, intermittent prayer is never bathed in this Divine fire. For the man who thus prays is lacking in the earnestness that lays hold of God, determined not to let Him go until the blessing comes. 'Pray without ceasing,' counselled the great Apostle. That is the habit that drives prayer right into the mortar that holds the building stones together. 'You can do more than pray after you have prayed,' said the godly Dr. A. J. Gordon, 'but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.' The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer.
'The greatest and the best talent that God gives to any man or woman in this world is the talent of prayer,' writes Principal Alexander Whyte. 'And the best usury that any man or woman brings back to God when He comes to reckon with them at the end of this world is a life of prayer. And those servants best put their Lord's money 'to the exchangers' who rise early and sit late, as long as they are in this world, ever finding out and ever following after better and better methods of prayer, and ever forming more secret, more steadfast, and more spiritually fruitful habits of prayer, till they literally 'pray without ceasing,' and till they continually strike out into new enterprises in prayer, and new achievements, and new enrichments.'
Martin Luther, when once asked what his plans, for the following day were, answered: 'Work, work, from early until late. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.' Cromwell, too, believed in being much upon his knees. Looking on one occasion at the statues of famous men, he turned to a friend and said: 'Make mine kneeling, for thus I came to glory.'
It is only when the whole heart is gripped with the passion of prayer that the life-giving fire descends, for none but the earnest man gets access to the ear of God.
(E. M. Bounds, Public Domain.)
After the occupation of the Promised Land, Israel's exposure to Canaanite worship affected the nation's own worship. The Old Testament reveals clearly that Israel adopted some of the practices of the pagan people around them. At various times God's people lapsed into idolatry. Some idols were placed on pedestals and sometimes they were adorned or fastened with silver chains (Isaiah 40:19) or fastened with pegs lest they totter and fall (Isaiah 41:7). Shrines and altars were sometimes erected to these pagan gods . But such idolatry was condemned by God and His special spokesmen, the PROPHETS of the Old Testament.
(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
FALLACIES OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM
This will appear still more extraordinary if we consider the times in which, it is said, no Psalms were produced, and contrast them with the times in which all of them were produced. The times in which none were produced were the great times, the times of growth, of mental ferment, of conquest, of imperial expansion, of disaster, and of recovery. The times in which none were produced were the times of the splendid temple of Solomon, with its splendid worship. The times in which none were produced were the heroic times of Elijah and Elisha, when the people of Jehovah struggled for their existence against the abominations of the pagan gods . On the other hand, the times which actually produced them were the times of growing legalism, of obscurity, and of inferior abilities. All this is incredible. We could believe it only if we first came to believe that the Psalms are works of slight literary, and religious value. This is actually done by Wellhausen, who says, "They certainly are to the smallest extent original, and are for the most part imitations which illustrate the saying about much writing" (Quoted by Orr, "The Problem of the Old Testament," p. 435) The