Readings for today:
Saturday, June 29: Psalm 80 – 85
Sunday, June 30: Psalm 86 – 89
Perhaps you are familiar with Jesus’ words, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” (John 15:5), or Jesus’ parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9). These words sound similar when looking at Psalm 80: 8 as God brings a “vine out of Egypt.” A vine that has been tended to and nurtured so that out of Egypt it might flourish.
“I am the Lord your God.”
These words of course recall the words spoken to Moses, “I am, who I am” (Exodus 3:14) or any one of Jesus’ “I am” statements. And of course, there are direct ties to the First Commandment, “I am the Lord your God.” Perhaps that is the best connection to make with the Psalm as the Psalmist speaks of the many false gods to whom the people have been captivated by.
“For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
This Psalm speaks for itself:
“Rise up, O God, judge the earth;
for all the nations belong to you!”
These are harsh words spoken against the enemies of Israel. Essentially the Psalmist says, wipe them out, do to them . . . all the things listed in 13 – 17. Then, in the end, let them know that you, and you alone are God.
I found this Psalm refreshing after all of the doom and gloom of the last several Psalms. Just in the first two verses alone we fine a sense of refreshing hope as there is a happy home for all of us.
Verse 10 then brought a song to mind, “Better is One Day” by Matt Redman. If you don’t know it, you should look it up. It’s a great song of worship and praise.
As I pondered this Psalm, I sensed the longing to hear the voice of God speaking. “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,” the Psalmist pleas in verse 8. And what would we hear, in hearing God speak? The answers lie in verses 10 -13, steadfast love, faithfulness, peace, and righteousness.
Verses 11 & 12 are great verses to live by:
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
Then there is this oddity that comes in verse 16. The “servant” and the “girl” that are lifted up . What an honor, especially knowing that servants and girls were pretty low in the chain of society for the time and day that many of the Psalms were written. What a bold prayer wanting to include them, lifting them up and commending them to God’s strength!
Where were you born? For me our birth place is always a place that we call “home.” Its a place we might always long to return to. Here the same image is presented for us, with the joy of calling Jerusalem “home”.
The NRSV includes the title, “Do the shades rise up to praise you.”(v. 10) As I read this I was instantly transported to the writings of Dante and his Divine Comedy where the dead were all referred to as ‘shades.’ These were given this title by Virgil (Dante’s guide) as the dead had not yet received their ‘resurrected’ bodies after the time of Judgement.
Certainly that image of darkness, horror, Sheol (Hell), and the depths of doom and gloom linger throughout this Psalm. Did it stir the vision Dante once had before writing his Divine Comedy? Did he perhaps read this Psalm before he entered the gates of Hell?
From the depths of Hell in Psalm 88, we move to a Psalm of Praise as David is lifted up. Firstborn, mighty, loved, and promised that his linage would be protected forever.
Readings for the next few days:
Monday, July 1: Psalm 90 – 95
Tuesday, July 2: Psalm 96 – 102
Wednesday, July 3: Psalm 103 – 105
Thursday, July 4: Psalm 106 – 107