Psalm 1 – 8
For the next month, we will spend our time reading through the Psalms. Typically we’ll read 3 – 5 a day. If at all possible, I’d encourage you to read them at different times throughout the day. This way they don’t all blend togehter adn you can apperciate the message of each Psalm as it is written.
Also remember these are songs that were often sung, its poetry written from the heart. All in all, this is the hymnal of ancient Israel. I don’t expect you to sing them, but keep that in mind as you read, and maybe it will help bring their message to life.
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked . . .
their delight is in the lay of the Lord . . .
They are like trees planted by streams of water.
In our recent trip out west, you could always tell where there was water as we were driving through the desert. How? Somewhere in the midst of the beautiful shades of brown and red sand and rock, greenery would appear. Trees would stand tall. Life was found. Most of us are familiar with the image of a desert. Can’t say we saw anything quit as beautiful as the Hollywood movie version, instead, we saw natures version which was beautiful in its own way. Yet, as the Psalmist sings, we can recall that image as the people of God. Gathered by the River of Life. Living in the joys that only God can give. The rest of the world, “They are like chaff, that the wind drives away.”
While this Psalm was likely written by David as he was anointed King of Israel, there are images of Christ present . . .
“You are my son; today I have begotten you . . .
I will make the nations your heritage
and the ends of the earth your possession.”
With one mighty ruler, be it David, or ultimately Christ, nations will fall, kings will bow down, and all will be happy if they seek refuge in the one provided by God.
Here is our first reminder that the Psalms were songs. As you are reading you may find the word “Selah” inserted every few verses. Other Bibles (or hymnals) insert an R. While the meaning is unclear in the Hebrew text in which it was written, many believe this was a phrase to tell the reader to repeat the opening verse, much like a refrain in today’s music.
This particular Psalm was written while David is living in fear. He is on the run, there may even be a price on his head. (2 Samuel 15-18) As David laments, he cries out, “O Lord, how many are my foes?” You can sense his longing, fear, and the depth of his concern, especially when you repeat that phrase over and over again at each refrain. “O Lord, how many are my foes?” Then to know that those foes have been diminished as the Psalm comes to a close, “Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people!”
Even as the Psalmist pleas for help, comfort and deliverance comes to those who trust in the Lord. Peace is found in God:
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O lord, make me lie down in safety.
Much like Psalm 4, there is a great image of safety and well being that is found in God. The closing verses sing the psalm well:
Let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let the ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
So that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.
Can you sense the longing. The Psalmist who wrote these words is either deeply wounded or very ill. Even while in anguish, God is still there!
I am languishing . . .
Heal me . . .
My bones are shaking with terror . . .
In death . . .
I am weary . . .
My eyes waste away . . .
(Yet) the Lord has read my supplications
One can only wonder if the story of Job was a basis for the words of Psalm 7. Sin, repentance, destruction, pleas: “If I had done this.” It all sounds vaguely familiar as we just finished reading through Job. While the foot notes in my Bible attribute this to David, their statement “a prayer for help of a person who has probably been falsely accused of some wrong.” (Harper Collins, NRSV Study Bible revised edition, pg 738) reminds me of Job and the accusations made by his friends against him.
There is some great imagery in Psalm 8. Some of these words are my favorite.
How majestic is your name in all the earth!
When I look at your heavens, and the work of your fingers
The mood and the stars that you have established:
(and I ask) What are humans beings that you are mindful of them,
Mortals that you care for them?
Yet, you have made them a little lower than God,
And crowned them with gory and honor.
Despite our sinful and rebellious ways, God still made us, and has clothed us with honor. Honor given through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Aren’t we blessed!!
Looking ahead for the week:
I’m going to be traveling with our Mission Trip Youth and a camp. Where we are going is pretty rural, so I am not sure if I will have computer access. I’m hoping to still be able to post my thoughts. Even better, I’m hoping to read each day with our youth, and share their thoughts as well. If not, I’ve got a journel that I’m taking along, so I’ll have notes to share. Keep us in your prayers as we travel!!
Readings for the next few days:
Saturday, June 15: Psalm 9-16
Sunday, June 16: Psalm 17-20
Monday, June 17: Psalm 21-25
Tuesday, June 18: Psalm 26-31
Wednesday, June 19: Psalm 32-35
Thursday, June 20: Psalm 36-39
Friday, June 21: Psalm 36-39
Saturday, June 22: Psalm 40-45