Week 26: Psalms 78

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Reading: Psalms 78

This week we are considering only one psalm, Psalm 78, since it is longer than many of the other psalms.  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.    

            Psalm 78 is a creative retelling of Israel’s story.  In the broadest sense, the purpose is to teach, but not simply in the sense of imparting information.  Rather, the psalmist’s teaching is intended to inspire hope and obedience in the hearers and, indeed, in all subsequent generations (verses 6-8).  This kind of history is as much or more concerned with the present and the future as it is with the past.  One widely accepted outline has three parts:  introduction, verses 1-11, recital one, verses 12-39, recital 2, verses 40-72.  Each recital follows a similar pattern—description of God’s gracious activity, rebellion of the people, God’s anger and punishment, restoration of relationship by God.

              In this psalm we see a sovereign God who lives in the tension between justice and mercy: gracious acts of God are followed by human disobedience, which in turn creates destructive consequences and necessitates God’s gracious forgiveness and restoration.  For Christians, the cross demonstrates just how far God is willing to go to forgive and to reclaim sinful humanity.  To recite Psalm 78 is to confess our own sinfulness and to profess our conviction that we are saved not by our merit or efforts but by the grace of God.

 

 

 

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 25: Psalms 75-77

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Reading: Psalms 75-77

We are at the halfway point in our reading this week.  I sincerely hope everyone is enjoying these beautiful poems and hymns to God as much as I am!

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 75: Do Not Boast

            A conviction runs through all Scripture that boasting is an offense to the divine majesty, that the arrogance of self-importance and autonomous power stands under the judgment of God.  Psalm 75 is a song to praise God who judges the boastful wicked.  Whether this image of wickedness is viewed as individuals, institutions or nations, it is well represented in the world today–including in the church.  Psalm 75 reminds us that in god’s reign, worldly values are turned upside down.  What this reversal means, as the apostle Paul recognized, is this: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31).

 

PSALM 76: God is Awesome

            Psalm 76 praises God for his awesome power over kings and princes and their weaponry.  The armaments of the nations are powerless against the wrath of God against the nations’ pretense of power.  Salem is an ancient name for Jerusalem. Zion functions in the psalm as a symbol of God’s sovereignty in all times and places. Although nations continue to wage war, in the end, God will reign over his people in peace.

 

PSALM 77: God’s Footprints Were Unseen

            The heart of Psalm 77 is a series of questions that express the most fearful anxiety that can overtake a child of God: Has God abandoned his own once and for all.  In despair, the psalmist turns to God’s wondrous past deeds in the creation and the crossing of the Red Sea. Is the psalmist’s hope restored through his review of the past?  Although most commentators feel it was, others say the questions are never answered.  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 24: Psalms 72-74

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Reading: Psalms 72-74

           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 72: May Righteousness Flourish and Peace Abound

            This psalm was most likely originally written for the coronation of Davidic kings in Jerusalem.  After the disappearance of the monarchy, the psalm continued to be used because what it prays for ultimately is the establishment of God’s reign and will in the world.  The vision of peace expressed in the psalm still calls for actualization.  We are called as citizens of God’s realm to remind every human ruler, politician, and government that peace and well-being can be accomplished only when those in power assume responsibility for justice and rule with compassion towards all peoples.

 

Psalm 73: Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

            Our hymn this week, “Be Thou My Vision”, echoes the final verses of Psalm 73.  The meaning and mystery of the psalm lie in its transition from the opening bitterness to the ending declaration of the psalmist’s pure devotion.  In verses 13-14 the psalmist questions what good it does to be faithful to God.   In verse 15, the psalmist directly addresses God for the first time in the psalm.  Apparently, the direct encounter with God also renews the psalmist’s awareness of God’s family.  The psalmist realizes that if he or she were to keep on talking the way expressed in verses 13-14, then it would be a betrayal of God’s family—Israel.  What brings the psalmist through the crisis of faith, then, is his or her identity as a member of God’s people.  This sense of belonging to God and thus belonging to God’s people is subsequently solidified in worship.  The psalmist almost lost faith because he or she thought that good behavior should be rewarded materially.  What the psalmist came to realize was that true goodness, happiness, and peace consist of a different kind of reward.  It is rewarding, not because it earns God’s favor, but because it derives from and expresses the power and presence of God in our lives, individually and corporately.

 

 

 

 

 

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 23: Psalms 69-71

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Reading: Psalms 69-71

           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 69: For Your Sake, I Have Borne Reproach

            Psalm 69 was used repeatedly in the New Testament for Christological and theological purposes.  It furnished a context for reflection on Jesus’ rejection by his own people (John 15:25), on his motive in driving traders from the temple (John 3:17), on the bitter treatment he was given instead of pity at the time of his death (Matt. 27:34, Mark 15:23, Luke 23:36, John 19:19-30). And on the meaning of his suffering (Rom. 15:3).  Paulo found in the psalm a clue to the hardening of those in Israel who rejected Jesus (Rom. 11:9-10).

We can reflect on God’s intimate, incarnational involvement with the lowly and the oppressed as we read the psalm.

 

PSALM 70: Make Haste to Help Me

            Psalm 70 is read during Holy Week as the prayer of Jesus in his passion and of the church in its neediness. The “Aha, Aha” in verse 3 recalls the mocking words that onlookers directed to the crucified Jesus (Mark 15:39)

 

PSALM 71: I Will Hope Continually

            Psalm 71 has three sets of petition followed by trust and praise (verses 1-8, 9-17, 18-24).  Without minimizing the reality of distress and opposition, the psalmist displays pervasive faith and hope and persistent praise.  Although having grown old, the psalmist expects new things; indeed, the psalmist is intent on proclaiming God’s deeds to “generations to come.”  All who belong to God are called to praise God continually in joyful gratitude for God’s faithfulness and righteousness, to witness to all the generations to come that ultimately nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rom. 8:39).

 

 

 

 

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.