Reading: PSALMS 19-21
Click on the link for the reading to read the Psalms for this week. As we read, let us not do so in haste. Take time to read each Psalm at least three times: once to understand the content, once as a poem or song to feel the meaning, and once as a prayer to appropriate the Psalm into your life. There will often be a hymn attached at the bottom of the page that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms for the week.
PSALM 19: God’s Instruction is All-Encompassing
“LORD, my rock and my redeemer” are the last words of Psalm 19. On the way to that confessional conclusion, the psalm speaks of the creation’s testimony to the creator (vv. 1-6), the incomparable value of the law of the LORD (vv. 7-10), and the human need for divine forgiveness and protection (vv. 11-13). The psalm affirms that the God whose sovereignty is proclaimed by cosmic voices is the God who has addressed a personal word to humankind—the Torah. Furthermore, this God is experienced ultimately by humankind not as a cosmic enforcer but as a forgiving next of kin. God is love, and love is the force that drives the cosmos. This is, indeed, an extraordinary thought!
PSALM 20: We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God
This psalm was composed to be used at ceremonies concerned with the king’s position as military leader and defender of the nation. The theme is set in the first measure, “The Lord answer you,” and is repeated in the last measure, “answer us.” The basic theology of the psalm is the confessional cry, “salvation belongs to the Lord” (3:8). The psalm teaches us to pray for those who hold the power of office, because they, like us, are dependent on the Lord. It warns against ever letting our dependence on human leaders turn into the trust we owe to God alone. It warns against allowing a leader’s fascination with military strength make us support policies based on trust in military might. The psalm exhorts us to submit our will to God’s will rather than pretend that our will is God’s will. It is an invitation to live under God’s reign.
PSALM 21: The King Trusts in the Lord
Like Psalm 20, Psalm 21 is a royal psalm. Verses 1-6 are a thankful celebration of the fulfillment of the wishes expressed for the king in Psalm 20:1-5, and of the arrival of the anticipated help from God in Psalm 20:5-9. Verse 7 is the theological heart of the psalm. This verse makes it clear that Psalm 21, is really more about God than about the king. The king lives in dependence upon God and God’s loving purposes. Verses 8-12 is addressed to the king. It expresses confidence that the LORD’s wrath will be joined to his struggle with his enemies so that he can overpower them. The psalm concludes with a congregational exclamation of praise for the strength and might of the LORD. Like other royal psalms, Psalm 21 is ultimately testimony to God’s sovereignty, not the king’s sovereignty. Israel’s kings did not match up to the model exemplified here. It would fall to Jesus to model authentic kingship and authentic humanity. The basics of faithfulness are present in Psalms 20-21: trusting God and living in dependence on God’s steadfast love—even if leaders and people, then and now, fail to measure up.
This is the Psalm in hymn form. Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension.
We’ve attached a video clip for a different version of a musical adaptation of Psalm 16 below.
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