Week 38: Psalms 111-114

walk-through-the-psalms-psd

Reading: Psalms 111-114

           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 111: Delight in the Works of the Lord

                Psalms 111 and 112 belong together.  Psalm 111 is praise of the works of the Lord by those who fear him.  Psalm 112 is a commendation of the way and life of those who fear the Lord.  Each psalm is an acrostic—each poetic line (each half-verse in English) begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.   In Psalm 111 we are first invited to praise, then the palmist states his or her intent to praise the Lord in the assembly of believers.  What follows are the reasons the Lord should be praised.  Finally, verse 10 serves the purpose of joining this psalm with Psalm 112.  The only action of the psalmist in Psalm 111 is the expression of intent to give public thanks to God with their whole being.  This complete dedication of the self to God is the essence of praise.  As such it inevitably involves obedience.  This posture toward God—praise, gratitude, obedience—is captured by the phrase “fear of the Lord.” 

 

PSALM 112: Happy Are Those Who Fear the Lord

                Psalm 111 declared of the Lord “his righteousness endures forever.”    Psalm 112 declares of those who fear the Lord “their righteousness endures forever.”  The composer of this hymn believes so profoundly that the works of God take shape in the life of the righteous that for the psalmist those works become also the praise of God.  In a secular culture, happiness is viewed as material prosperity and ease.  It is important to hear the message of Psalms 111 and 112.  Happiness and security are derived, not by secular standards, but by transforming ourselves to be like God.  Jesus pronounces happy those whom the world would consider unfortunate and most likely to be unhappy (Matt. 5:3-11).  When Paul admonished his readers to “join in imitating me” (Phil. 3:17), his admonition was not arrogant but the bold challenge of one who was convinced that “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).  Like the Psalmist, Paul was convinced that by the transforming mercy of God (see Rom. 12:1-2), the works of God take shape in the life of the righteous.  The transformed lives of the righteous become the praise of God.

 

PSALM 113: Who Is Like the Lord Our God!

                In the Hebrew text, this psalm begins and ends with a “Hallelujah.”  It is a hymn to the majesty and mercy of the Lord. Psalm 113 is a testimony to who God is, revealed by what God does.  Especially in conjunction with 112, this psalm is an invitation to the people of God to join God’s work on behalf of the poor and needy.

 

PSALM 114: Tremble, O Earth, At the Presence of the Lord

                This exuberant little psalm is a poetic affirmation of the faith that lies at the heart of the whole Bible: the God who rules the cosmos is made known in space and time for the purpose of properly ordering the world and the human community.  The specific events stated in the psalm constitute the basis of Israel’s story: exodus, a provision in the wilderness, entry into the land of God’s people.  The church sees in Christ’s death and resurrection yet another expression of the divine rule in which the Presence assumes a new relation to people and place.

 

 

Song

This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just getting started?  Find our reading schedule here

If you’d like to sign up for the reading notes to come via email, please sign up below.

Week 37: Psalms 108-110

walk-through-the-psalms-psd

Reading: Psalms 108-110

           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 108: With God We Shall Do Valiantly

                The psalm has apparently been composed by joining Psalm 57:7-11 (108:1-5) and Psalm 60:5-12 (108:6-13).  Verses 5-6 of the psalm form a section of petition consisting of the last verse of the quotation from Psalm 57 and the first verse from the quotation from Psalm 60.  The appropriation of old Psalms to apply the message to new situations shows the vitality of the older psalms in the life of Israel.  And Psalm 108 retains its vitality today in the life of God’s people.  By following initial praise with the ongoing petition, the psalm teaches us that the people of God never live beyond trouble and the need for God’s help.

 

PSALM 109: They Curse but You Bless

                This is a strange psalm indeed!  While it begins and ends with elements typical of a prayer for help, verses 6-19 is a song of hate.  However, it is quite possible that verses 1-5 are telling us that the Psalmist, although innocent, has been put on trial in the Temple before priestly judges.  He comes before God as one who is “poor and needy” (verse 22).  When we hear Psalm 109 as a victim’s appeal for justice, then what we thought was a poisonous yearning for revenge becomes more like a just claim submitted to the real judge: God.  Note that the anger is expressed, but it is expressed in prayer.  This angry, honest prayer removes the necessity for the psalmist to take actual revenge upon the enemy. 

 

PSALM 110: Sit at My Right Hand

                In reciting the Apostles’ Creed to declare our faith, we say over and over again, “I believe in Jesus Christ . . . who sits at the right hand of God.”  This statement is based on the repeated citation of Psalm 110:1 in the New Testament) (Matt. 22:44; Mark 14:62, 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34-35, 7:55; Romans 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 1:13, 8:1, 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22).  In the early church, Psalm 110 was considered the Messianic text above all others.  Luther called it “the main Psalm to deal with our dear Lord Jesus Christ.”   The original addressee was a Davidic king whom the prophet calls “my lord” because the prophet is the king’s servant, a subject, and an official.  In the Old Testament, the Davidic king was the primary figure who was called “the Messiah,” that is, the one whose investiture in office involved anointing.  Verse 1 is an instruction to assume the throne, and the psalm was possibly composed to be used in inaugural ceremonies for the king at the point of his enthronement.

 

Song

This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just getting started?  Find our reading schedule here

If you’d like to sign up for the reading notes to come via email, please sign up below.

Week 36: Psalms 106-107

walk-through-the-psalms-psd

Reading: Psalms 106-107

           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 106: We Sinned With Our Ancestors

                Psalm 106 focuses on Israel’s failure to trust themselves to the Lord in spite of his saving wonders, which are enumerated in Psalm 105.  After a confession in verse six that all generations had sinned against God, the psalmist enumerates Israel’s sins through a telling of their history.  What is highlighted is the perseverance of God’s grace:  God will again intervene to end the nation’s troubles.  But this good news has been evident throughout Israel’s history.  Indeed, there would have been no story to rehearse apart from the way God is—steadfastly loving, ceaselessly compassionate, abundantly merciful (vv. 45-46).  This good news did not stop with Israel’s story.  The apostle Paul saw in verse 20 not only a comment on Israel’s character but also a comment on the character of all humanity (Rom. 1:23).   Paul knew that humankind is fundamentally sinful and he proclaimed ultimately that we are justified by God’s grace— “while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Humankind is saved by grace!

 

PSALM 107: Consider the Steadfast Love of God

                This song praises the loyal love of the Lord shown in his deliverance of those in distress.  Four groups of redeemed based on kinds of adversity are listed and a stanza of the song is devoted to each: those who were perishing from hunger and thirst (vv. 4-9}, those who were in prison (vv. 10-16), those who were sick unto death (vv. 17-22), and those who were in a storm at sea (vv. 23-32).  Verses 33-41 is a recitation of the ways in which the Lord reverses the conditions of human beings so as to gladden the upright and silence wickedness.  This psalm reminds us of a recent sermon: how do we measure maturity.  We have a tendency in our culture to equate maturity with self-sufficiency.  We are what we earn, what we possess.  We must pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  Wisdom is getting ahead in any way that we can.  Security is equated to good asset management.  In short, we are to be self-made persons.  Those who struggle are often looked upon as “less.”  God is telling us here that we are wrong!

 

 

 

 

 

Song

This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just getting started?  Find our reading schedule here

If you’d like to sign up for the reading notes to come via email, please sign up below.

Week 35: Psalms 104-105

walk-through-the-psalms-psd

Reading: Psalms 104-105

           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 104: The Lord God Made Them All

                Psalm 104 praises the Lord as the one who created the world and provides for all creatures that live in it.  It is a poetic vision of the world and nature as the work of the Lord.  Contemporary people have a variety of ways of viewing and speaking about the world and the forms of life it sustains—scientific, economic, aesthetic, recreational.  This psalm offers the view and language that is appropriate for faith.  It exquisitely depicts how all God’s works effectively bless God simply by taking their rightful place in an intricate ecosystem that originated with and constantly depends on the sovereign Maker. 

 

PSALM 105: The Power of the Promise

                According to this psalm, there is a single explanation for Israel’s foundational story.  The whole story from the wandering of Abraham to the settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan is based on the Lord’s promise of the land to Abraham.  The psalm praises the Lord, whose power was manifest in the wonderful works and acts of judgment of which Israel’s story is composed.  A long version of that foundational story makes up verses 12-44 of Psalm 105.  The Lord is exclusively the actor here; his power at work to save and preserve Israel is on full display.    The psalmist’s purpose in retelling the old story is to evoke a grateful and faithful response by the people to God’s choice to be related to them, a choice supported by His “wonderful works” (vv. 2-5).  Therefore, the psalm is not primarily about the past.  Rather, it is about the present and the future.  Isaac Watts, in his hymn “Bless O My Soul! The Living God” asks the question, “Why should the wonders He hath wrought be lost in silence and forgot?”  In answer to his question, Psalm 105 resoundingly proclaims, “They shouldn’t!”  Rather, the people of God are called upon to “make known . . . tell . . . remember” (vv. 1-2,6).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song

This is the Psalm in hymn form.  Read or sing it through with melody to give the Psalm another dimension. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just getting started?  Find our reading schedule here

If you’d like to sign up for the reading notes to come via email, please sign up below.