Reading: PSALMS 22-24
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 22: My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?
Psalm 22 is the principal Old Testament resource found in the passion story. Jesus quoted the first verse in his anguished cry from the cross. When Jesus recites this psalm from the cross he joins the company of the afflicted and becomes one with them in their suffering. In praying as they do, he pronounces his total identification with them. He shows that faith includes bringing the worst of life up to God. Hebrews 5:7 tells us, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.”
Verses 22-26 move from prayer for help to praise for help. The setting is a service of thanksgiving in which a person whose prayer for deliverance has been answered goes to the sanctuary with those who rejoice at his restoration. He does what is necessary to fulfill the vows he made in his prayer by offering a sacrificial meal to those in attendance. Who are the congregation? The text implies that they are more than just friends and relatives—they are all those who are lowly seekers and fearers of the LORD.
The final verses connect the fate of the afflicted one with the future of the kingdom of the LORD. The significance of his salvation is now proclaimed for the entire world and its many families of peoples, for all conditions of human existence from the vigorous to the dying and for future generation yet unborn. Everyone, in every time, will join in the worship of those who recognize and rejoice that universal sovereignty belongs to the LORD. The deed of righteousness by the afflicted one will become the basis of the nation’s worship.
PSALM 23: The Lord is My Shepherd
Psalm 23 is the most familiar psalm and perhaps the most familiar passage in the whole Bible. We have categorized this psalm as “what is read at funerals.” Perhaps we should try to hear it in a fresh way. In our consumer-oriented society it is difficult to hear the simple but radical message of Psalm 23: God is the only necessity of life! To make this psalm our own is to affirm that we do not need to worry about our lives. God will provide, and God’s provision is grounded in the reality of God’s reign. Jesus is Shepherd, Host, Emmanuel.
Psalm 24: The King of Glory
God is sovereign! In verses 1 and 2 he is the owner of the world because it is his work. That possession includes all the peoples of the earth. Verses 3-6 identifies the congregation who make the confession. They are the company of those who seek the presence of the owner of the world. Those with clean hands are innocent of wrong against others. The pure heart thinks and wills only fealty to the Lord. Those who do not lift up their soul to what is false are faithful to the true God and to truth. The “one who does not swear deceitfully” is faithful to the neighbor. Blessing is the divine gift of provision for and support of life for the righteous ones. The creator gives life and relationship in the first place, but it is those who respond by practicing righteousness in living who receive a renewal and confirmation from God.
Verses 7-10 identifies the king of glory. The king of glory is the mighty warrior, the LORD of hosts. Creation was a battle, and the Lord’s victory revealed his glorious kingship. The title “Lord (or God) of hosts” is the throne name of Israel’s God. It is the title the LORD bears as royal residency in Zion, the one whose power makes the city of God invulnerable against its enemies. The title refers to the hosts who surround the LORD’s heavenly throne and who praise and consult him and carry out his decisions as sovereign of the world.
Psalm 24 gives us a confession with which we may acknowledge how the world came to exist and whose we are. Existence in the world is possible because of the existence of the world. The world exists because the will and work of the LORD have prevailed against the chaos of nonexistence to bring forth a benevolent and life-sustaining order. Creation is a victory of our God of which we are the constant beneficiaries. The confession calls for a life that is itself ordered by the sovereignty on which it depends.
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 24 below.
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