Week 34: Psalms 101-103

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Reading: Psalms 101-103

           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 101: The Way of Integrity

                This psalm is a song of one whose sphere of responsibility extends beyond his own “house” (vv. 2,7) to include “the city of the LORD” and the land (v. 8).  The psalm was composed for use at the inaugural of the king or a celebration of his kingship.  It is a declaration of commitment to the righteous conduct that belonged to the ideal of a king.  Psalm 101 could be understood today as an articulation of the values that God wills to be embodied among humans: love, justice, integrity. 

 

PSALM 102: A Prayer of the Lowly

                The psalm begins with an individual prayer for help, but then it makes a sudden shift.  A brief ascription of praise is followed by an expression of hope for and confidence in the restoration of Zion (vv. 12-17), and hope for the return of exiles (vv. 18-22).  Verses 23-24 return the focus to individual complaint and plea, but the psalm ends in praise and confidence in the people’s future.  In the Psalm. Zion is the symbol of God’s willingness to be concretely present in space and time with a particular people.  For the church, the symbolism of Zion has been transferred to Jesus (Heb. 1:10-12 views Ps 102:25-27 as testimony to Jesus’ lordship).  For Christians, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as the ultimate demonstration of God’s reign, which takes the form of mercy and grace.  Jesus is the seal of God’s constancy. And the church professes to find its hope in these words of Jesus, which make essentially the same promise for the future as Psalm 102:28: I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

 

PSALM 103: Bless the Lord, O My Soul 

                Psalm 103 is a profoundly evangelical hymn.  It gives voice to the thankfulness of sinners that the LORD is a God of mercy and grace.   It recites in a concentrated way what Israel learned about the ways of God: the Lord had not dealt with them according to their sins.  The Psalm intends to be comprehensive.  It affirms that God, who rules over all and does all good things for all persons in need, is to be praised in all places by all creatures and things with all of their being.

 

 

 

 

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 33: Psalms 97-100

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Reading: Psalms 97-100

           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 97: The Reign of God and the Righteous

                This psalm has three parts; each develops the significance of the opening proclamation.  Verses 1-5 paint a verbal picture of “the Lord of all the earth.”  Verses 6-9 describe the response to the proclamation.  Heaven is claimed as herald and all peoples as witness o a rule that has inescapable consequences for all.  The third part, verses 10-12, tells the righteous what the proclamation means for them. 

 

PSALM 98: Joy to the World

                Psalm 98 is the Old Testament text for Isaac Watt’s Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World!”  The hymn celebrates the birth of Jesus as the coming of the Lord to rule the world with truth and grace.  It uses the language and themes of the psalm in order to say that the nativity is an event of the kind and significance proclaimed in the psalm.  The Psalm announces the coming of the Savior God as king of the world.

 

PSALM 99: The Lord Our God is Holy

            There are numerous verbal links between Psalm 99 and Exodus 15:1-18, the song of praise that Moses and the Israelites sang after being delivered from Egypt.            Both songs celebrate God’s reign (v.1, Exod. 15:18).  In both God is to be exalted (vv. 2,5, Exod. 15:2) because God is “great” (vv. 2-3, see might in Exod. 15:16 NRSV, “awesome” (v 3, Exod. 15:11), “mighty” (v 4, see “strength in Exod. 15:2, 13). And “holy” (vv. 3,5,9; Exod. 15: 11,13).  In both songs, people “tremble” (v 1, Exod. 15:14), and in both, God is established in God’s own place (vv. 1-2, 5, 9; Exod. 15:13, 19). It seems as if Psalm 99 intentionally recalls Exodus as a way of affirming for a later generation, discouraged by contemporary events, that God still reigns.  May we be likewise encouraged.

 

PSALM 100: The Lord is God

            This is a processional song for movement through the gates of the temple into its courts where the Lord is present.  Its lesson is simple yet deeply profound: God rules the world, and consequently, we belong to God.  We are not our own.  This is a difficult lesson to hear and to get across in a culture that encourages us to be “self-made.”  Most o us seem to believe the popular saying, “It’s my life to live.”  The Bible insists, however, that our lives are not simply own to live.  Genuine life is found in submission to God: to live is to praise God.

 

 

 

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

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Week 32: Psalms 94-96

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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.

 

 

 

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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August 2017 Issue of The Narthex

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Week 31: Psalms 91-93

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Reading: Psalms 91-93

           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 91: My Refuge and My Fortress

                Psalm 91 consists of an eloquent profession of faith followed by a divine speech that confirms the faith of the psalmist.  We should turn to it again and again to re-enforce our confidence in God.  Our hymn for the week is a great companion to this psalm.  We cannot, however, misinterpret these words to mean that God’s angels will protect us from all harm.  The devil tried that when he encouraged Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple.  Jesus said that to do so would be to test God rather than to trust Him.  This psalm instead reminds us that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 9:39).

 

PSALM 92: But You, O Lord, Are Exalted Forever!

                The creation of the world and the salvation of the people of the Lord are, together, assurance that life belongs to the righteous and not to the wicked.  The sovereignty of the Lord will be vindicated in human life just as it has been in cosmos and history.  This is the lesson of Psalm 92.   The affirmation of God’s rule challenges us to find our security in God.   According to the Heidelberg Catechism, the Fourth Commandment requires that one “cease from my evil works all the day of my life, allow the Lord to work in me through his spirit, and thus begin in this life the eternal Sabbath” (Question 103).  In recognizing and yielding to God’s rule, we experience at once the eternal Sabbath, the peace God intends and will bring about.

 

PSALM 93: The Lord Reigns

                This hymn evokes for the imagination a word picture of the One who cannot be represented by images.  The king is clothed, not with a garment, but with majesty and power; his attributes are for him what splendid royal robes for an earthly king.   His reign is not measured in years but spans all of time.  His place is “on high” above and beyond all place as human beings know space.  His house expresses in its architecture the very quality of divine holiness.  Our culture teaches that there is no need to talk about God.  God is a projection either of our own guilt or of our own will to power, and it is really we who are in control of the world and of our destinies for good or ill.  Because of the temptation to accept this world view, it is crucial that our worship incorporates the fundamental message of Psalm 93: God reigns.

 

 

 

 

 

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.