Reading: Psalms 94-96
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 94: Justice Will Return
“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” That line from this week’s hymn, “This is My Father’s World,” is the theme of Psalm 94. “Vengeance” was a legal action to restore or enforce justice where the regular legal processes were not competent or had failed. The wicked have no future except the consequences of their own evil. The psalmist does not deny that the wicked prospers and crime pays (vs. 3-7,13,20-21), but neither does he or she waver from the conviction that God rules and that God is the help and hope of God’s people. The reader is called to decision—either to choose the self-assertion of the wicked or to find happiness (v.12) and consolation (v 19) and refuge (v 22) in God.
PSALM 95: Listen to God’s Voice
Psalm 95 combines a hymn and a word from God. It begins with a hymn in verses 1-7a. Verse 7b contains an appeal to listen to the voice of God. God speaks a warning not to repeat the conduct of the wilderness generation in verses 8-11. The progression of the hymn moves us into the presence of the Lord. It starts with a joyous procession into the presence of God. We prostrate ourselves in verse 6, waiting to hear God’s word. God does not coerce obedience; God invites obedience. God warns that the consequences of disobedience are severe, but God refuses to be an enforcer. It leaves God in the vulnerable position of having to implore the people to obey, but such is the price of integrity and of love.
PSALM 96: God is Coming to Establish Justice
The psalm envisions the Lord as a divine presence in his sanctuary. The presence is mediated through the attributes of glory and majesty, strength and beauty. These attributes are said to be before him, where he is. The king cannot be visualized directly, one must imagine him by thinking of these attributes. The response for which the hymn calls is a procession of the nations into the courts of the Lord to bring tribute and do homage, all as a ritual of fealty to the Lord as the true king of the world. It is not sufficient to gather a congregation less than “all the earth” (vv. 1, 9). This includes humans, but it also includes “the heavens,” “the earth” itself, “the sea,” “the field,” and “all the trees.” The destiny of humankind and the destiny of the earth are inseparable. We—people, plants, and even inanimate entities—are all in this together.
This is the Psalm in hymn form. Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension.
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