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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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Psalms of Grateful Praise

There are various kinds of Psalms.  1 Chronicles 16:4 gives insight into a possible three-fold identification of the Psalms (and definitely a three-fold job description for ministers).

 

Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.

Hymns of Praise

  1. Hymns of Praise: General Praise  –    Celebrating the attributes of God
  2. Hymns of Praise: Grateful Praise –    Thanksgiving for what God has done for us

 

Bruce Waltke understands the Psalms of Grateful Praise to flow through a three-component motif (a recurrent thematic element).

 

  1. Introductory call to praise                     match that ignites the fire
  • Because it is fitting and right
  • In the imperative mood
  • Spirit of enthusiasm
  1. The cause for praise                                Fuel that is lit up
  2. Renewed call to praise Hallelujah

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=psalms+lecture+7+waltke&&view=detail&mid=C7425236FA2192713C0CC7425236FA2192713C0C&&FORM=VRDGAR

 

Psalm 117  (The shortest Psalm)

 

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
The Call to Praise
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
The Cause for Praise
Praise the Lord! Renewed Call to Praise:  The Hallelujah

 

Psalm 95

 

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

 

The Call to Praise

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
The Cause for Praise
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
The Call to Praise
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

 

The Cause of Praise

 

Psalm 100

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing.
The Call to Praise
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 

The Cause of Praise
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 

The Call to Praise
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

 

The Cause of Praise

 

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The Call to Praise
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b] and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

The Cause of Praise
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The Renewed Call to Praise

 

 

Posted on 14th August 2019 in Psalms, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Messianic Psalms: Psalm 22

With broad strokes we can place Messianic Psalms into two groups.  There are Messianic Psalms, like Psalm 2, that have meaning for the king at the time of the writing and for the coming King. Secondly, there are Messianic Psalms that only find their fulfillment in Jesus, the Messiah.

 

From my perspective, Psalm 22 is a pure prophetic and Messianic Psalm about Jesus the Messiah and his crucifixion.

 

Bruce Waltke, in referring to Messianic Psalms, beautifully states, “The Messianic Psalms are royal robes waiting for the King who fits them perfectly.  Jesus alone is the King worthy to wear these Psalms.” https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=waltke+messianic+psalm+&&view=detail&mid=715BC730546EA01E5DAD715BC730546EA01E5DAD&&FORM=VRDGAR

 

Genesis walks us through God’s development of His kingdom on earth.

 

The earth was considered ‘the serpent’s” kingdom.

 

God’s kingdom was in the hands of Adam and Eve.

 

The serpent would bruise her heal but she would bruise his head.

 

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”  Genesis 3:15

 

Kingdom of God would be established through Eve’s offspring…….

 

Seth not Cane.

Noah

Shem not Ham or Japheth

Abraham

Isaac not Ishmael

Jacob not Esau

Judah not the other eleven tribes.

David (His house will endure forever)

Jesus, the Eternal Son.

 

Of David it is said:

 

  • 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:16
  • “His offspring (Jesus) shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me.”  Psalm 89:36

 

Jesus is identified as the son of David by Matthew, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  Matthew 1:1

 

The robes of the Messianic Psalms perfectly fit Messiah Jesus, the son of David.

 

The only Person Psalm 22 “fits” is Jesus, the son of David and at His crucifixion is the only time it “fits.”

 

This prophetic Psalm is beautiful and agonizing to behold.

 

One perspective of the poetic flow of this Psalm is of a three-stanza hymn of ten verses each (verse 11 is a transition)

 

Psalm 22:1-10             Lament with Praise

 

1-5 abandoned by God finds confidence in God’s past faithfulness to fathers

6-10 abandoned by people confidence in God’s past faithfulness to himself (9)

 

Psalm 22:11                Transitional Request for Presence

 

Psalm 22:12-21           Lament with Prayer

 

Psalm 22:22-31           Praise

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

 

 

Matthew 27:46

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 53:1-3

 

 

Matthew 27:39, 27:31

 

 

 

Matthew 27:43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the experience of a crucified person, not one being stoned to death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 27:38

 

 

John 19: 23, 34, 37

 

 

Matthew 27:36

 

Matthew 27:35

 

 

 

Posted on 24th July 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: The way of the righteous and the way of the wicked (part 3)

“The language of righteousness and talk of the righteous and the wicked is almost completely missing in contemporary religious life. This may be due to the assumption that the use of words such as righteous and wicked lead inevitably to narrow judgmental attitudes of the sort the Pharisees displayed (Mt. 23:13-28). To be sure, such language can be used for self-congratulation or for the exclusion of others. This book is written with the conviction, however, that avoidance of this language and of the theological ideas associated with it diminishes the the church’s theology and ethical imperative substantially.”  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (p. 2). Kindle Edition.

 

What might be reasons for the absence of conversations regarding the righteous and the wicked?

 

  1. An intentional reframing of God, God’s revelation and human relationship with God.
  2. The belief that belief changes reality.
  3. Intentional rejection of Biblical revelation.
  4. Intentional rejection of objective moral and ethical absolutes and the whole hearted acceptance of a post-modern “it means what you make it mean to you.”

 

“Indeed, the concern for righteousness and for those called righteous (and wicked) in the Psalms is directly related to some of the main questions of the Christian faith, such as: What is the character of God? (God is righteous; Rom. 3:21-26.) How can humans be reconciled with God? (By faith they are reckoned as righteous; Gal. 3:6-9.) Who is Jesus Christ and what is the meaning of his death? (He is one of the righteous who suffered at the hands of the wicked; Lk. 23:47.) How will humans be judged and what will the end of things be like? (Righteous and wicked will be separated and rewarded according to the compassion they showed to those in need; Mt. 25:31-46.) Moreover, the New Testament speaks of the future hope for the people of God as a hope for the righteous (1 Pet. 4:18).”  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (p. 2). Kindle Edition.

 

The two paths, one of the righteous and the other of the wicked, is a most essential theme of all God’s revelation to humankind.

 

The Bible opens and closes with the righteous and wicked paths

 

  • And the LordGod planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Genesis 2:8-9
  • 15 The LordGod took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Genesis 2:15-17
  • And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:5-8
  • Then the angel[a]showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life[b] with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.  Revelation 22:1-5

 

The two paths in the communal life of God’s covenant people, Israel

 

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”  Joshua 24:14-18

The two paths in the ministry of Jesus

 

The straight and narrow way

 

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  Matthew 7:13, 14

 

Wise man and foolish built houses

 

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”  Matthew 7:21-27

Three examples of the righteous and wicked paths in Matthew 25

 

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps[a] and went to meet the bridegroom.[b] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[d] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Posted on 12th June 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: The Way of the Righteous and the Way of the Wicked

We are investigating the two paths or two ways of the Bible.  The Psalms are the prayers and hymns of those on the righteous path and their warnings for those on the wicked path.

 

One of the earliest Christian “curricula” is the Didache.  Likely written less than 60 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

 

The Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise, dated by most modern scholars to the first century. The first line of this treatise is “The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles (or Nations) by the twelve apostles”. The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord’s Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical.  Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays.  Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given.  Church organization was at an early stage of development.  Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as “chief priests” and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry. The Didache is considered the first example of the genre of Church Orders. The Didache reveals how Jewish Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their practice for Gentile Christians. The Didache is similar in several ways to the Gospel of Matthew, perhaps because both texts originated in similar communities. The opening chapters, which also appear in other early Christian texts, are likely derived from an earlier Jewish source.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

 

THERE are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths. The Twelve Apostles. The Didache . Acheron Press. Kindle Edition.

 

The Path of Life

 

Now the path of life is this—first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, thy neighbour as thyself, and all things that thou wouldest not should be done unto thee, do not thou unto another.

 

And the doctrine of these maxims is as follows.

 

Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies. Fast on behalf of those that persecute you; for what thank is there if ye love them that love you? do not even the Gentiles do the same But do ye love them that hate you, and ye will not have an enemy.

 

Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If any one give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn unto him the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; if any one compel thee to go a mile, go with him two; if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also; if a man take from thee what is thine, ask not for it again, for neither art thou able to do so. Give to every one that asketh of thee, and ask not again, for the Father wishes that from his own gifts there should be given to all. Blessed is he who giveth according to the commandment, for he is free from guilt; but woe unto him that receiveth. For if a man receive being in need, he shall be free from guilt; but he who receiveth when not in need, shall pay a penalty as to why he received and for what purpose; and when he is in tribulation he shall be examined concerning the things that he has done, and shall not depart thence until he has paid the last farthing.

 

For of a truth it has been said on these matters, Let thy almsgiving abide in thy hands until thou knowest to whom thou hast given.

 

The Twelve Apostles. The Didache . Acheron Press. Kindle Edition.

Path of Life

·      Love the God who made thee

·      Love your neighbor

·      Do not do what you don’t want done

 

 

Called a doctrine

 

 

·      Bless them that curse you and pray

·      Fast on behalf of persecutors

·      Love them that hate you

 

 

 

 

Abstain for fleshly and worldly lusts

·      Don’t fight back – turn the other cheek

·      Go beyond the demands of your oppressors

·      Give to those who steal from you

·      Give to everyone that asks of you

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you receive as an alm without being in need

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know to the details of the person to whom you are giving an alm.

 

 

 

 

The Path of Death

 

My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it.

 

Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, for out of all these murders are engendered.

 

My child, be not a lustful one. for lust leads to fornication.

 

Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, for out of all these adulteries are engendered.

 

My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to look at these things, for out of all these idolatry is engendered.

 

My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft.

 

Be neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, for out of all these thefts are engendered.

 

My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy.

 

Be neither self-willed nor evil-minded, for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.

 

Evil things and every likeness of it

 

 

Anger and it’s final fruit of murder

 

Jealousy, quarrelsome, hot temper

 

 

Lustfulness and its final fruit of fornication.

 

 

Filthy talk and lofty eye and final fruit of adulteries.

 

Omens, enchanting, astrology nor a purifier

 

Do not be willing to look at these things

 

 

 

Lying and its fruit of theft.

 

 

Money-loving and vainglorious and their fruit of theft

 

Murmuring and its fruit of blasphemy.

 

 

Self-willed and evil-minded and their fruit of blasphemies

 

 

The two paths are the primary call of God through Moses in Deuteronomy 30:15.

 

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.

 

Elijah features the two paths too.  1 Kings 18:21

 

20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

 

 

 

Posted on 6th June 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: Introduction to Psalm 1

Last session we learned to consider the ebb and flow of our lives through three movements.

 

“Our life of faith consists in moving with God in terms of:

  1. Being securely oriented;
  2. Being painfully disoriented; and
  3. Being surprisingly reoriented.”

Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

Being securely oriented Being painfully disoriented Being surprisingly reoriented
Psalms of Praise Psalms of Protest Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalm 145 Psalm 22 Psalm 103

 

Psalms 1 and 2 are the gateway into all of the Psalter.

 

Similarly to preparing for entrance into the Tabernacle of Moses one “prepares” to enter the Psalter.

 

Leviticus 16

 

“This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place: He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.

 

Exodus 28

 

Send for your brother Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. They are the ones I have chosen from Israel to serve as my priests. Make Aaron some beautiful clothes that are worthy of a high priest. Aaron is to be dedicated as my high priest, and his clothes must be made only by persons who possess skills that I have given them. Here are the items that need to be made: a breastpiece, a priestly vest, a robe, an embroidered shirt, a turban, and a sash. These sacred clothes are to be made for your brother Aaron and his sons who will be my priests. Only gold and fine linen, woven with blue, purple, and red wool, are to be used for making these clothes.

 

Bruce Waltke, noted Psalms scholar, teaches that Psalm 1 is preparation for “entrance into the Psalms.”  Additionally, he names Psalm 1 as the “Wicket Gate to the Psalter.” http://biblicalelearning.org/old-testament/psalms-2/

 

In this perspective, Psalm 1 and 2 are the necessary preparation for entrance into the Psalter.

Book One

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

The Psalter addresses one of the most dominant themes of all God’s communication and relationship with humanity:  righteousness and wickedness.

 

In essence, the Judeo/Christian life is exceptionally simple.  There is only one decision required, “Will I chose the way of the righteous or the wicked?”  Psalm 1:6, 2:12, John 14:6

 

This simple choice flows harmoniously throughout God’s relationship with humanity.  From Genesis to Revelation the call is for righteousness.

 

We find righteousness in the ministry of Jesus, the writings of the Gospels, Peter and Paul.

 

  • Matthew 25:31-46
  • Luke 23:47
  • 1 Peter 4:18
  • Romans 3:21-26

 

What will follow Psalm 1 and 2 are the words of those the Psalter identifies as righteous.

 

But now in the canon of scripture these prayers have a common theological setting in the Psalter: they are the words of those the Psalter identifies as saddiq, “righteous,” setting them apart from those called “wicked.” These prayers of the righteous provide a window into the Psalter’s understanding of the righteous and their relationship with God. They allow the reader to gain a purchase on what it means to be righteous, how the saddiq speaks out of his or her need to God and how such a person imagines God to be and to act.  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (Kindle Locations 308-311). Kindle Edition.

 

Jerome Creach shows how numerically dominant the theme of righteousness and wickedness are in the Psalms.

 

The term “righteous” (saddiq; plural saddigam) and related words such as “upright” (yasar), “poor” “oppressed” (dal) and “needy” (‘ebyon) appear a combined 125 times in the Psalms, thus drawing frequent attention to the subject. Furthermore, the term “wicked” (rasa ; plural resa`im), which signifies those who oppress and persecute the righteous, appears so often (82 times in the Psalter) that the reader is constantly confronted with the concern for how life will turn out for the righteous. Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (Kindle Locations 2319-2321). Kindle Edition.

 

Bruce Waltke forms the expansiveness of righteousness and wickedness into a simple and complex, easy to remember saying:

 

  • The righteous are those who disadvantage themselves for others.
  • The wicked disadvantage others for themselves.

http://biblicalelearning.org/old-testament/psalms-2/

 

Jerome Creach presents a summation of righteousness from the Psalter.

 

The righteous person’s relationship with God

 

  • The righteous depend on God for protection.
  • The righteous plead to God for forgiveness.
  • The righteous worship God in humility.

 

The righteous person’s relationship with others

 

  • The righteous love and serve their neighbors
  • The righteous person’s faith in God and obedience to him are inseparable.
  • The righteous have clean hands and a pure heart.

 

“…the destiny of the righteous is a central organizing subject that provides a fruitful entree into the Psalter as a whole.”  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (Kindle Locations 2316-2317). Kindle Edition.

As we pursue the life of faith that is “moving with God” in seasons of orientation, disorientation and reorientation, may what is said of Jesus be said of us.

“Surely this was a righteous man” (Lk. 23:47, NIV). Luke’s account of Jesus’ death includes this surprising statement from the Gentile centurion beneath the cross. What prompted the soldier’s assessment ofJesus, no one knows. One possible explanation is that Jesus immediately before death called out to God in prayer using the words of Psalm 31:5, “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” Whatever the reason for the centurion’s words, Jesus, at the moment of his death, does appear as one of the righteous, praying in the midst of suffering, just as the ones in the Psalms.  Jerome F. D. Creach. The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms (Kindle Locations 304-307). Kindle Edition.

 

 

Posted on 8th May 2019 in Psalms  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: Windows and Mirrors

The Psalms:  Window and Mirrors

In the Psalter we have both windows and mirrors.

  • Through them we observe humans in interconnectivity with the Creator and His creation.
  • By them we see deeply into our own humanity.

Immersing ourselves in the Psalms we begin to ask, “Am I reading the Psalms or are the Psalms reading me?”

All the realities of human life are embraced in the Psalms.

To understand the Psalms, one must be interacting in real time with God, God’s creation, humans and the self.

The effectiveness of the Psalms is directly correlated to Biblical self-awareness.

Frederick Buechner accurately states, “The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

In listening to the lives of others and our own, we might see a synthesis of Paul Ricoeur’s work as presented by Walter Brueggemann.

“Our life of faith consists in moving with God in terms of:

  1. Being securely oriented;
  2. Being painfully disoriented; and
  3. Being surprisingly reoriented.”

Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

 

Being securely oriented Being painfully disoriented Being surprisingly reoriented
Psalms of Praise Psalms of Protest Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalm 145 Psalm 22 Psalm 103

 

“But there are those (and this is our primary concern here) who have regular access to the psalms of high celebration but have been so numbed to their own experience that the words of the psalm have no counterpart in their own life experience.”  Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

The Psalter is a window into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of others.

The Psalter is a mirror into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of our selves.

Thus we shake off any and all numbness to our own lives and fully embrace our own psalms of praise, protest and thanksgiving.

Posted on 1st May 2019 in Psalms, Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post