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