Week 30: Psalms 89-90

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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.

 

 

 

 

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 29: Psalms 86-88

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Reading: Psalms 86-88

           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 86: You Alone Are God

                Psalm 86 has been constructed so that whoever used the psalm prays with a sustained concentration on the character of God and the identity of the one who prays.  It is an excellent model for prayer. 

  • Prayer is the voice of dependence, verse 1.
  • Prayer is the voice of trust, verse 2.
  • Prayer is not only a plea for life, it is a submission of life. The servant can serve only one master (see Matt. 6:19-34).  Prayer is the voice of commitment, verses 11-12.

 

PSALM  87: This One Was Born in Zion

            This difficult psalm can be divided into two major themes: Zion as God’s city, verses 1-2, Zion’s worldwide significance verses 3-7.  Jerusalem became the symbol of God’s sovereignty over all places, times, and peoples.  All people are God’s children.  If Psalm 87 were taken seriously, we could not condone the dehumanization of other people and still claim God’s approval.  The only permissible goal of the Christian is love, for God so loves the world.

 

PSALM   88: The Darkness Is My Closest Friend

            This psalm consists mostly of lament over the psalmist’s condition.  There is only one petition: listen to my prayer.  There is no praise, no confession, no vows. What we do have is the prominence of death.  The lament speaks not only of an affliction that leads to death but of death itself.  Death is so near and so real that it becomes the subject of the lament.  But it is not necessary to limit the psalm’s relevance to situations of illness.  The language is metaphorical enough to express other life-threatening situations.  It is thought that this psalm was used as an exilic prayer to articulate the plight of the whole people in exile.  Whatever our extreme agony, this psalm helps us articulate it in prayer.

 

 

 

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 28: Psalms 83-85

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Reading: Psalms 83-85

           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 83: The Enemies of God

                God must not be inactive because his enemies are astir and they are preparing an assault against his people.  A series of three petitions call for divine action to solve the crisis.  Some argue that the violent imagery of Psalm 83 and its prayer for vengeance render it unusable for Christians.   It is a reminder, however, that the reign of God and the divine purposes have never gone unopposed.  Israel knew this, as did Jesus, Paul, and the early church.  We should know it too, for the contemporary world is hardly less inclined to violence than was the ancient world or less inclined to enact God’s will for justice, righteousness and peace.

 

PSALM 84: Happy are Those Whose Strength is in You

                Of all the psalms that celebrate Zion and its temple as God’s dwelling place, the 84th   has been the favorite.  From its opening exclamation to its concluding beatitude, the psalm celebrates the joys afforded by the dwelling of God with mortals.   It was probably sung by pilgrims as they made their way toward, arrived at, and walked about Jerusalem.  Every visit to a temple or church or meeting of believers is in a profound sense a pilgrimage.  We go not just for practical or personal reasons; we go to meet with the God who dwells among us.

 

Psalm 85: God’s Salvation is at Hand

                Psalm 85 is primarily known for its striking portrayal of God’s promise of peace and salvation in verses 8-13.  The promise is delivered in the midst of current distress that has followed a more favorable time.  The psalm encompasses the reality that Christians already know and experience in Jesus Christ, but that exists amid the ongoing brokenness of the world and the sinfulness of persons and of our society.

 

 

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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July 2017 Issue of The Narthex

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Week 27: Psalms 79-82

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Reading: Psalms 79-82

           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 79: Where Is Your God?

                The people of God are experiencing grievous trouble and they petition the Lord for help.  The psalm is alluded to in Rev. 16:6; it was cited by Jerome in response to the invasion of Rome by the Visigoths; it was frequently on the lips of Christians as they died in the religious conflicts of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe; and it was and is used by Jews on the ninth of Ab, which commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem.  As we look at ourselves and see a broken world haunted by monstrous evil, we still ask the question, “Where is God?”  As we do, we can be instructed by Psalm 79 and its insistence that suffering be seen in the perspective of faith.  The Psalmist never loses sight of the harsh realities facing the people of God.  But the Psalmist likewise never loses hope.

 

PSALM 80: Restore Us, O God

                Psalm 80 appeals to God to resume the favor bestowed on Israel in the past, restoring all that had been lost because of his anger.  The imagery refers to the ark of the covenant and its role in Israel’s history and faith.  The ark led Israel through the wilderness like a flock.  It manifested the appearance of God when it was taken out with the armies of Israel, and symbolized his presence when it rested in the temple.  The conviction that one confronts God in every circumstance, both good and bad, lies at the heart of the Israelite prayers for help.  There is no better way to express belief in the reality of God’s sovereignty than to address God out of our individual and corporate afflictions and to continue looking to God as the only source of light and life.

 

PSALM 81: Listen To Me

                Psalm 81 begins with the praise of God and then turns quickly to preaching.  The sermon is delivered as the voice of God.   Its text is the first commandment.  It tells of God’s yearning for his people to be faithful to him.  God is moved by what his people do or do not do.  Thus, in the absence of the people’s response, God begs and pleads that they listen.  We are bombarded today by more competing voices than any other generation in the history of the world.  In this din of voices vying for our attention and allegiance, Psalm 81 calls us to discern the pained by the persistent voice of the one who says simply, “follow me.”

 

Psalm 82: Show Justice to the Weak

                In this mythological text, God convenes a council of all other gods.  God accuses the other gods of failure in their role of bringing justice to earth, finds them guilty of destabilizing the earth by their incompetence and sentences them to loss of office and death.  The psalm concludes with a petition to God to take over as judge of the earth in place of the gods who were supposed to judge the nations.  We can see that injustice rules the world—we see it all around us.  God has the only legitimate claim on our lives.  Paul says it well in 1 Cor. 8:5-6a; “indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”  Paul also refers to these so-called gods as the “rulers and authorities” (Eph. 3:10, Col. 2:15’ “the principalities and powers”).  As long as nations and their peoples do not see the reign of God as the reality that determines their way and destiny, there will be other gods who play that role.

 

 

 

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.