Reading: Psalms 89-90
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 89: The Rejected Messiah
Most of this psalm is a praise of the Lord’s everlasting faithfulness to his covenant with David. Then, in verses 38-45, the present situation is described as an incredible contradiction of the Lord’s faithfulness to his covenant with David. The Psalm reaches its climax in verse 49, which sums up the whole. “Where are your former deeds of loyalty which you swore to David in your faithfulness?” Finally, the psalm ends with a plea for God to intervene to correct the problem.
We can look at verses 38-45 and see in them Jesus the Messiah in the power of his enemies, rejected and scorned, his life cut short. But there is another thought we can take from our reading. It is a testimony to the difficulty of seeing in current world affairs the justice and righteousness that God wills for the world. It is a call to humility for the church, for the body of Christ often does no better than Israel’s monarchy did in furthering God’s will in and for the world.
PSALM 90: Have Compassion On Your Servants
Psalm 90 is often used at funerals, a time when we are likely to reflect on our own condition and destiny. The psalm is concerned with the relation between God and time and mortals and time and what that means for the relation between God and mortals. Verses 3-12 deal with the tragic predicament of human life in general and ask for wisdom to live life under the conditions set for it. Verses 13-17 are concerned with Israel’s history with the Lord and seek a change from a time of affliction and mourning to one of satisfaction and joy. The priority of God’s activity and the priority of God’s time reshape human activity and human time. Our days and years are not simply moments to be endured on the way to oblivion; our efforts are not simply fleeting and futile. Because God is eternal and faithful and eternally faithful in turning toward humanity, our allotted time becomes something meaningful, purposeful, joyful, enduring. Reinhold Niebuhr captured the good news of Psalm 90:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
This is the Psalm in hymn form. Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension.
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