Archives for posts with tag: Psalms

As I read various readings this morning, my mind was so confused.  I read Psalms 25 and was struck by the words in verses 4 and 5.  “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me they paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”  Beautiful words which we like to hear.

But then, I was led to Psalms 137 which starts out with “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.”  Most of us would remember hearing these words and would even break out in song, upon hearing them, but how many of us really think about them or about the rest of this Psalm – a song of sadness and a song of hate…..yes, hate!  And yes, why not hate, when we remember what happened to the peoples of Israel, what happened to the people of Africa, what happened to the peoples of many of the Caribbean Islands.  I recently read two books – “The Covenant” by James A. Michener and “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill and also read “Roots” by Alex Haley some time ago and believe me, they are not easy books to read; and reading through the Old Testament alone gives us lots of examples of what Israel went through.

Eugene H. Peterson calls Psalms 137 the Scandal Psalm and says many people would like to remove it from the Psalms because it does express hate, but as I contemplate what would have been in the hearts of people who were torn from their land, their families, their loved ones, their people and who also had their children, their precious babies torn from them, would I not feel hate. Yes, when we are hurt, when we are violated, when we are in great pain, when we don’t understand why things are happening, God wants to hear how we feel.  God is a big God – He can handle how we feel and He can help to turn us around and help us work through our hate and our great sorrow.  God does not want us to suppress our feelings.  He wants us to express them and the Psalms illustrate this over and over again.  Peterson used this sentence which really struck me – “A ship that is dead in the water can’t be steered”.

Yes, sometimes we will feel actual hate – admit it, but then pray it out to God and let Him guide you in His ways. Many, many things we don’t understand, but all will be revealed to us one day.  Psalm 136:1 ” O Give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures for ever.”  He will understand us even when we don’t understand ourselves.

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A Psalm of David.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,  for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  He will receive  blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!

And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

 Who is this King of glory?   The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads, O gates!   And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?   The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!  Psalms 24

As I read Psalms 24 this morning, my mind was on the US election and how passionate the voters were, even standing in line-ups for up to six hours to place their vote.  I also thought about how close the overall results were.  I prayed for the results of the election before, not for any particular candidate, as I did not have a clear and definite opinion on which man would do a better job.

Reading over this Psalm, I am now praying that Barack Obama will keep a “clean heart and clean hands” and that God will use him to lead America in the paths that it should go.  There are many things that don’t look right to me at the moment, but God can change things in His own way and in His own time.  Pray for America!

I have just spent a considerable amount of time reading the blogs of other people, and wondering about the people and about what they write.  I have also spend a great deal of time reading a variety of books in the last several months and contemplating the information in them and the authors who wrote them.

I wonder – what does reading tell us?  Do the people who write believe what they are writing?  Is the author trying to get across an internal belief by writing a story which he or she clearly indicates is fiction?  Obviously people who write self-help books, or books of religious instruction or teachings would readily admit that they believe what they are writing to be true, but how much of the author’s true beliefs comes out in the fictional stories.

When I read a book, fictional or non-fictional, there is always something in it that I would love to discuss with others but others are seldom around to discuss the thoughts with me.  Perhaps I will start blogging on the subjects that I would like to discuss.

Today I was reading a book by Eugene H. Peterson called Answering God on the Psalms as Tools for Prayer.  Here is a section that really made me think.

“Two things are prominent in Psalm 1: an action and an image.  Torah-meditation is the action; a transplanted tree is the image.

Torah (law) is God’s words that hit the target of the human condition.  The noun torah comes from a verb, yarah, that means to throw something, a javelin, say, so that it hits its mark.  The word that hits its mark is torah.  In living speech, words are javelins hurled from one mind into another.  The javelin word goes out of one person and pierces another.  Not all words are javelins; some are only tin cans, carrying information from one place to another.  But God’s word has this aimed, intentional, personal nature.  When we are spoken to this way, piercingly and penetratingly, we are not the same.  These words get inside us and work their meaning in us.

As we prepare to pray, to answer the words God addresses to us, we learn that all of God’s words have this characteristic: they are torah and we are the target.  God’s word is not a reference book in a library that we pull off the shelf when we want information.  There is nothing inert or bookish in these words. God’s words, creating and saving words every one, hit us where we live.

The moment we know this, that God speaks to us, delight is spontaneous.  ‘The Psalms are the liturgy for those whose concern and delight is the torah of the Lord’. These are not words that we laboriously but impersonally study, as if for an exam.”

The writer goes on to describe how we need to meditate on the words, relating it to the sounds that a lion might make over its prey, describing the word meditate as a bodily action, involving murmurings and  mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, shaping them on our lips, tasting them.  Meditation is mastication.

Have you ever read the Bible like that?  Have you ever read a poem or any writing like that and just “felt it in your bones, your soul, your heart, your spirit?

Thinking about words in this way makes me appreciate so much the wonderful opportunity that I have to read, read and read.  I have always loved to read ever since I was a little girl, seeing books as adventures, and I hope that I will never lose that love.