Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If you see someone running...

(This is the second in a series of posts on small words in the Bible that provide valuable nonverbal clues.) 
Another little word that is easy to overlook in the Bible is run.  In your everyday life when you see someone running (other than an athletic event) you interpret their actions different than if they were walking or standing.  If you are in the mall and everyone starts running, your reaction would be very different than if everyone sat down!

When someone runs in the Bible it signifies a higher intensity of emotions and an increased sense of urgency.  Many times it shows that they have abandoned concern about concealing their feelings. There are many people in the Bible who were afraid.  A few were so terrified that they ran, even if they revealed their fear to their enemy. There are many people in the Bible who were in great need.  A few who were so desperate they ran to find the solution.

In these passages see if you can identify who ran, where they ran, and the emotions behind their actions:
Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.  (1 Samuel 17:48–51, NASB)

When He (Jesus) got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain…Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him…  (Mark 5:2–3, 6, NASB)

He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.  (Luke 19:1–4, NASB)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.  (John 20:1–5, NASB)

Bonus question:  It appears that John was fastest runner in the New Testament.  Do you know who was the fastest runner in the Old Testament?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Is someone sitting? Stop and ask these three questions.

While working on our latest Bible workbook, “Body Language in the Bible,” I was surprised at all the little words we commonly overlook in the Bible.  One of these small words which had the biggest impact on me was “sit” or “sat.”

In all the times I have read through the Bible I rarely stopped to consider the significance of sitting.  While researching for this book on nonverbal communication, I realized that sitting is very important.  When the Bible tells you someone was sitting or sat down, it gives you that detail for a reason.  There are two common reasons someone sits down in the Bible, and in everyday life, for that matter.

First, people sit down because they are tired.  They want to rest.  This is obvious and easy to spot.

The second reason people sit in the Bible is because it is their dwelling place.  They might sit in their tent, or by the city gate, or on a throne.  The important thing to consider is whether or not they belong in that dwelling place.  Are they sitting on someone else’s throne?  Are they dwelling somewhere improper where they might get into trouble?

Here are some examples.  Think about where they are sitting, and if they are in their rightful dwelling place.

How about Solomon?  Was he sitting on a throne which belonged to him?
And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established. 
[1 Kings 2:12, NASB

Where is Jesus sitting after He ascended to heaven?  Is this the rightful place for Jesus to sit?
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   
[Hebrews 12:2, NASB

Here is an example of someone who made a good decision regarding when and where to sit. Jesus commended her for her choice.
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. 
[Luke 10:38–39, NASB

These last two examples are men who chose to dwell in the wrong place.  Their choice to sit among evil people resulted in much anguish.
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 
[Genesis 19:1, NASB

After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” 
[Luke 22:55–57, NASB

Don’t overlook small clues in the Bible.  Always be on the lookout for seated, sit, and sat.  Train yourself to ask these three questions:  

  • Who is sitting?  
  • Why are they sitting in this place and at this time?  
  •  Is this the proper dwelling place for this person?

Body Language in the Bible is now available on