Reading: Psalms 79-82
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 79: Where Is Your God?
The people of God are experiencing grievous trouble and they petition the Lord for help. The psalm is alluded to in Rev. 16:6; it was cited by Jerome in response to the invasion of Rome by the Visigoths; it was frequently on the lips of Christians as they died in the religious conflicts of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe; and it was and is used by Jews on the ninth of Ab, which commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem. As we look at ourselves and see a broken world haunted by monstrous evil, we still ask the question, “Where is God?” As we do, we can be instructed by Psalm 79 and its insistence that suffering be seen in the perspective of faith. The Psalmist never loses sight of the harsh realities facing the people of God. But the Psalmist likewise never loses hope.
PSALM 80: Restore Us, O God
Psalm 80 appeals to God to resume the favor bestowed on Israel in the past, restoring all that had been lost because of his anger. The imagery refers to the ark of the covenant and its role in Israel’s history and faith. The ark led Israel through the wilderness like a flock. It manifested the appearance of God when it was taken out with the armies of Israel, and symbolized his presence when it rested in the temple. The conviction that one confronts God in every circumstance, both good and bad, lies at the heart of the Israelite prayers for help. There is no better way to express belief in the reality of God’s sovereignty than to address God out of our individual and corporate afflictions and to continue looking to God as the only source of light and life.
PSALM 81: Listen To Me
Psalm 81 begins with the praise of God and then turns quickly to preaching. The sermon is delivered as the voice of God. Its text is the first commandment. It tells of God’s yearning for his people to be faithful to him. God is moved by what his people do or do not do. Thus, in the absence of the people’s response, God begs and pleads that they listen. We are bombarded today by more competing voices than any other generation in the history of the world. In this din of voices vying for our attention and allegiance, Psalm 81 calls us to discern the pained by the persistent voice of the one who says simply, “follow me.”
Psalm 82: Show Justice to the Weak
In this mythological text, God convenes a council of all other gods. God accuses the other gods of failure in their role of bringing justice to earth, finds them guilty of destabilizing the earth by their incompetence and sentences them to loss of office and death. The psalm concludes with a petition to God to take over as judge of the earth in place of the gods who were supposed to judge the nations. We can see that injustice rules the world—we see it all around us. God has the only legitimate claim on our lives. Paul says it well in 1 Cor. 8:5-6a; “indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” Paul also refers to these so-called gods as the “rulers and authorities” (Eph. 3:10, Col. 2:15’ “the principalities and powers”). As long as nations and their peoples do not see the reign of God as the reality that determines their way and destiny, there will be other gods who play that role.
This is the Psalm in hymn form. Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension.
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