Readings for Sunday, June 23, 2019
Psalms 51 – 57
This Psalm is traditionally read for Ash Wednesday, and it sets the tone of lament and sorrow for the Lenten Season. However, as I read through this I paid attention to the title and introduction. “A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.” Well that changes things doesn’t it. The remorse, guilt, shame, that David must have felt as he was called out on his lust and sin. (2 Samuel 12) It’s all here. Deep in lament. Steeped in sadness. Humbled in wrong doing.
Then came another realization. For years, our worship has included a song based on verse 10-12 as part of the offering. These are the words we used to sing . . .
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
And uphold me, with your free spirit.
So knowing we sang those words, Sunday after Sunday, and knowing this was part of David’s lament over Bathsheba, I asked myself the question, were we supposed to be lamenting too? Is this our mini confession for not giving as God calls us to give? Are we asking for cleanliness in the midst of our sin/greed filled life? I’ll have to wrestle with this the next time it comes up to sing in worship, and ask myself, what a we singing and why.
In reading through the Bible you will find that there is a tree in the beginning and one at the end of Scripture. Genesis starts with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Revelation, ends with the tree of life. Rob Bell in his Nooma Series has a great reflection on life between the two trees. Where are we, and where is our place? Here in Psalm 52, we get a small glimpse of a possible answer as we encounter another tree, and Olive Tree. As we read, we are that tree! Sought after for its fruit. Fruit that can be pressed into oil. Oil that is sought after to give light. Light that provides a way to guide others to God. May we be blessed enough to to live as a tree amongst the trees!
I’ve recently been watching a series on Netflix called “Hill House.” Its a bit of a horror drama, and a good escape from all things church. In the last few episodes the house is described as evil. Evil enough to eat and consume everything, everyone who lives in it. Those lines came to light as I read Psalm 53, verse 4:
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?
Its a similar image. Evil befits evil, and it grows and grows, consuming everything. Yet, in the end, God will put all terror to shame and deliver his faithful people.
This is one of those that speaks well for itself:
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
And my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
Can you sense the longing. Can you tell that something isn’t right? Like Job, here is a constant plea for help, because torment is all around. Torment comes, not in enemies or adversaries (v. 12). No, Torment comes from ones friends. This is what happens when friendship goes wrong. So where do we turn to find a true friend? God! It reminds me of another great hymn . . . “what a friend we have in Jesus!” May you remember that Jesus is the one true friend who will never betray you!
When fear and evil seems to be lurking in every corner, where do we turn? God!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you!
Take note as you read this Psalm the image of “wings.” In verse 1, we are hiding under the protection of them. In the final verse, they are lifting us up to the heights of heaven. Here is the reminder, in darker times, we find shelter in the comfort of God, who reassures us, and lifts us up, so that we might soar to the heights of heaven.
Readings for the next few days:
Monday, June 24: Psalm 58-65
Tuesday, June 25: Psalm 66-69
Wednesday, June 26: Psalm 70-73