Week 46: Psalms 134-136

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Reading: Psalms 134-136

PSALMS 134-136

               

 As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read the 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 is a hymn attached that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms.

This week we read the last of the Songs of Assents. Psalms 120-134 all bear the superscription “A Song of Assents.”  This superscription identifies them as a separate group within the Psalms.  The most widely held theory is that the superscription refers to the journey to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals, used by pilgrims either on their journey or in processionals during the festivals. 

 

PSALM 134: May the Lord Bless You from Zion 

                After Psalm 133 has celebrated the unity of the gathered people of God in Zion, Psalm 134 addresses the assembled congregation, inviting them to do what they had come to Jerusalem to do: praise the Lord.  Verse 3 is a benediction, which would have sent the people forth with what they had come to Jerusalem to receive: the blessing of God.

 

PSALM 135: Your Name, O Lord, Endures Forever

                The author of Psalm 135 filled it liberally with expressions of praise.  Verses 8-14, the central section of the psalm, illustrates the divine sovereignty that requires God’s people to praise Him.  God, indeed, rules the world.  In today’s society of scientific and technological advancement, we must remember God’s sovereignty over all that we have learned and have yet to learn.

 

PSALM 136: God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

                The author has composed a hymn that enumerates God’s great wonders, from creation through the history of Israel.   God’s steadfast love expresses Yahweh’s attitude towards his people.  But according to Psalm 136, steadfast love also characterizes the attitude of God toward the whole cosmos, including the earth and all its features and all its creatures.  There can be no more profoundly good news than this—that God’s attitude toward the world and God’s motivation for action are summarized by steadfast love.

 

 

 

 


 

Song

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

 

 

 

 

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Week 45: Psalms 130-133

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Reading: Psalms 130-33

PSALMS 130-133

               

 As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read the 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 is a hymn attached that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms.

Psalms 120-134 all bear the superscription “A Song of Assents.”  This superscription identifies them as a separate group within the Psalms.  The most widely held theory is that the superscription refers to the journey to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals, used by pilgrims either on their journey or in processionals during the festivals.

 

PSALM 130: Out of the Depths 

                This psalm has a remarkable history in the life of the church.  It came to be known as De Profundis, the opening words of its Latin version.  The title pointed to its usefulness for all who found themselves in the depths of existence.  It is one of the seven psalms that were used in the services and disciplines of repentance.  Luther called it “a proper master and doctor of Scripture,” by which he meant that the psalm teaches the basic truth of the gospel.  John Wesley heard the psalm sung the afternoon before his transforming experience at Aldersgate Street.  Psalm 130 testifies to the kind of God whose presence in “the depths” would ultimately be expressed by the death of Jesus on the cross.

 

PSALM 131: Like a Child My Soul 

Just as a child puts their hope in a parent, the psalmist puts his or her hope in God.  At the end the psalmist bids Israel to hope in the Lord.  Living in hope is having One with you who takes the terror out of your life and brings assurance that your needs are met.

 

PSALM 132: For The Lord has Chosen Zion

                Psalm 132 is the longest of the Songs of Assent.  It articulates the theological rationale for making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem: Zion is God’s chosen place.  Verses 1-10 are a prayer, and the remainder of the psalm is a response to that prayer. The NIV and NRSV translate “all the hardships” in verse one, but the Jewish Publication Society translates that passage “his great self-denial.”  James L. Mayes suggests that David’s self-denial served the dwelling of the Lord in the midst of the people.  We are reminded of Phil. 2:6-8 which tells of one who took the form of a servant, and, being found in human form, humbled himself, and in his obedience unto death has become God with us and God for us,  the presence and power of the kingdom of God.  The need for a Messiah who keeps the covenant and promise of horn and lamp for David to appear in Zion are fulfilled in him.

 

PSALM 133: In Praise of Unity Among God’s People

               This psalm is an exclamation of delight at the goodness pilgrims experience as one family in Zion.  The church’s use of Psalm 133 has upheld the psalm’s portrayal of God’s family as the true definition of familial reality and the true source of blessing and life.

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

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 44: Psalms 125-129

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Reading: Psalms 125-129

PSALMS 125-129

               

 As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read the 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 is a hymn attached that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms.

Psalms 120-134 all bear the superscription “A Song of Ascents.”  This superscription identifies them as a separate group within the Psalms.  The most widely held theory is that the superscription refers to the journey to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals, used by pilgrims either on their journey or in processionals during the festivals.

 

PSALM 125: Those Who Trust in the Lord 

                In this song, Jerusalem. The destination of pilgrims becomes a symbol for the Lord’s way with the faithful.  Those who trust in the Lord, the people of the Lord, the righteous, the good, the upright in heart, and Israel are designations used as equivalents in the psalm.  This list says that the Israel who is truly the people of the Lord consists of those who are righteous, upright of heart and good in trusting their lives to the Lord in faith and obedience.  Verse 3 reminds us that human nature tends to make moral people do immoral things.  That makes it all the more important that human hostility and cruelty be identified, named for what they are, and opposed.  It is critical that the people of God, who know a more excellent way, be just so that evil will not prevail.

 

PSALM 126: Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord.

                “Restore the fortunes” is a fixed saying in Hebrew that means a radical change from the conditions brought about by divine wrath to those which result from divine favor.  It means the restoration of an earlier situation between God and people.  What the people remember from the past they pray to regain in the future.  Psalm 126 reminds us that we live in the hope of God’s help, always remembering what God has done in the past, and always anticipating what God will do in the future.

 

PALM 127: Unless the Lord Builds the House

                Psalm 127 is composed of sayings that teach how dependent we mortals are on the Lord in the basic areas of ordinary life.  It acknowledges that dependence and discloses an important reason the pilgrims make the journey to Jerusalem: to give thanks to the Lord.  This psalm is an insistent challenge to a purely secular reading of human experience.  While some people need to be reminded that home, community, work, and family are not simply necessities to be tolerated, other people need to be reminded that neither are these realms of experience the be-all and end-all of human existence.  Having a nice house may be part of the American dream, but it does not necessarily fulfill the will of God.  Having a crime-free neighborhood does little good if we have nothing to live for except our possessions, and making a living means nothing if we do not know what life is really all about.

 

PSALM 128: The Blessing of Those Who Fear the Lord

                Like Psalm 127, this psalm speaks of blessing as it celebrates the daily realms of work and family as gifts of God.  Together, the two psalms resist our persistent tendency to view the world purely in secular terms.  We must, however, take these two psalms together with Psalm 125: God’s peace and loving kindness always exist amid the hostility of those who do not fear the Lord.  We must resist the temptation to equate material the material blessings from God as rewards of some kind and those without such blessings as receiving punishment.

 

Psalm 129: Often They Assailed Me 

                The story of God’s people is one of persistent opposition.  God’s sovereignty is always opposed.  Thus, the people of God experience the opposition directed at God.  Inevitably, Israel lied by both memory and hope.  Jesus, too, invited his followers to enter God’s reign by taking up their cross.  It will always be so.

 

 

 

               

 

 

Song

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

 

 

 

 

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Week 43: Psalms 120-124

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Reading: Psalms 120-124

 As we read, let us not do so in haste.  Take time to read the 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 is a hymn attached that helps bring meaning to one of the Psalms.

Psalms 120-134 all bear the superscription “A Song of Assents.”  This superscription identifies them as a separate group within the Psalms.  The most widely held theory is that the superscription refers to the journey to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals, used by pilgrims either on their journey or in processionals during the festivals.

 

PSALM 120: I Am For Peace

                The Psalm alludes to the exodus and return from exile, but it concludes with a petition for salvation; that is, the people still need help.  While the psalmist clearly celebrates God’s presence and power, the psalmist still needs help.  The psalm leaves the people of God between “already” and “not yet.”  This is echoed in Jesus’ proclamation of the reign of God, which is now a reality (MARK 1:14-15) but which is experienced amid persistent opposition from the world, as Jesus’ own cross so clearly demonstrates.

 

PSALM 121: God’s Protective Care

                This psalm speaks of a trust that can sustain the journeys of life and the journey that life is.  It is a place to turn for solace when people of faith reach for words of assurance amid the trials and turmoil of their life journey.   It affirms that the sovereign ruler of the cosmos has a personal concern for the lives of all God’s people.

 

PSALM 122: The Peace of Jerusalem

                The first word of the psalm in Hebrew is the word for rejoice.  The entire song overflows with joy over Jerusalem—being there, contemplating its significance, and praying for its peace.  We must remember that Jerusalem, in the psalms, represents not just a place but a symbol of God’s presence in space and time.  When Jesus saw Jerusalem on his last journey, he wept because it was evident to him that the people did not recognize “the things that make for peace!” (Luke 19:41-42 NRSV) How, then, is the church to pray and act?

 

PSALM 123: Our Eyes Look to the Lord

                The two metaphors in verse 2 clearly portray the humble dependence that characterizes the psalmist’s approach to God.  Because God is sovereign, God’s people are in the position of servants of their “master” or “mistress.”  The word translated “master” is frequently used elsewhere of God elsewhere.  The use of feminine images of God is unusual, but not unprecedented (see Isa 66:13, Hos 11:4).  American Christians may never have experienced persecution or contempt on account of their faith.  Perhaps this is because we have not faithfully proclaimed and embodied the radical good news that God so loves the whole world and intends it to be rightly ordered so that all may know life and peace.

 

PSALM 124: Our Help is in the Name of the Lord 

                The affirmation in verse 8 has become so familiar that we fail to grasp its profound and radical implications.  To profess that God is our fundamental help means to profess that we are not sufficient to create and secure our own lives and futures.  In short, we need help.  As Paul put it with his words and embodied with his sufferings, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:3).

 

 

               

 

 

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.