Saturday, June 15: Psalm 9-16
The wicked shall depart to Sheol. (v. 17)
There’s a happy image! What is Sheol? In our modern interpenetration, we would say “Hell.” However our modern understanding of Hell is much different from the Sheol of days gone by. For those hearing the Psalm in the days in which it was written, Sheol was the fringe of town. It was the local garbage dump. It was the sewage substation. It was the home of the outcast and the diseased. It was not a happy place. In fact the fires of our modern day understand of Hell might seem like a bit of a vacation from Sheol. So let the wicked depart and have a nice trip!
Some earlier versions of the Bible link Psalms 9 and 10 together, as they combine the image of bringing down the wicked and putting them in their place. In the midst of the oppression of the word we proclaim as the Psalmist once did, “Rise up, O Lord God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed!” (V. 12)
I love the imagery in this Psalm. I can image David “fleeing like a bird to the mountain” and from his place of refuge overlooking Jerusalem. There reflecting on God’s greatness and the Tabernacle below, proclaiming in wonder, “The Lord is in his holy Temple.”
If there are words for us that still speak today, perhaps we would cry out the words of Psalm 12:
Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
The faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
It’s always exciting, as a Pastor, when you read scripture and find portions that are used throughout the worship service. Psalm 13 has a phrase that comes up on Good Friday as part of the Solemn Reproaches. Hard words to ponder as we take in the mystery of the Crucified and Risen one, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!”
Here, much like Good Friday, the Psalmist longs for God’s presence and asks over and over again, “How long?” How long will you abandon me? How long will I be in pain? How long will my enemies persecute me. How long, O Lord? Even in our hardest days, we may recite Psalm 13, yet let us remember our hardest days, do not compare to the trials Jesus faced on the Cross.
While Psalms 9 & 10 refer to the “wicked” here Psalm 14 refers to the “fools”. Biblical wisdom literature often equates these to the same individuals. Either way, verse 3 provides a good summary for our wicked fools.
They have all gone astray,
they are all alike perverse;
Ther is no on who does good,
No, not one.
Psalm 15 asked who is worthy to abide in the house of God? People who speak truth. People who do no evil. People who despise the wicked. People who stand by the truth. Even in this short Psalm, the list goes on. While the Psalmist makes room for good honest people to be able to walk in the house of God, I would say, without the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, none of us would be worthy enough or able to walk in the light of God.
Together we find peace and security in the hands of God. Fitting words as I prepare to travel with our Mission Trip Youth.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
In the night also my hearts istructs me.
I keep the Lord, always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
My body also rest secure.
Readings for the next few days:
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