Monday, September 24, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 136-142

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 136
Tuesday: Psalm 137
Wednesday: Psalm 138
Thursday: Psalm 139
Friday: Psalm 140
Saturday: Psalm 141
Sunday: Psalm 142

Introduction to Psalms 136-142

Psalm 136 

The anonymous author of this psalm writes, “Give thanks to the LORD, his love endures; who spread out the earth, his love endures; who led Israel out of Egypt, his love endures.” 

“The God of heaven” was a Persian title for God frequently found in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel. 

Psalm 137 

The anonymous author of this psalm writes, “By the rivers of Babylon, we wept when we remembered Zion. How can we sing the LORD's song? O Babylon, happy the one who repays you!” 

This psalm is one of the more violent psalms and speaks of how the Jews were destroyed by the Babylonians and carried away as captives. This psalm ends with a call for vengeance against those who had done them violence. 

The Jews wanted the Babylonians to pay for what they had done to their people, saying, "If only we could do to you what you did to us! How would you like it if we smashed in the heads of your babies like the way you did to ours?" 

Psalm 138 

David writes, “I give you thanks, O LORD! All the kings of the earth will praise you. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.” 

Psalm 139 

David writes, “O LORD, you have known me. Where can I go from your Spirit? You knit me together in my mother's womb. Search me and know my heart.”

This psalm is in my opinion one of the most beautiful of all the psalms. It portrays a God beyond escape, a God who is everywhere at all times and who sees and knows everything. 

God is in heaven, but he is also in the earth, in all of its farthest corners and hidden places - even in death itself, God is there. 

No matter where we end up, God will always be there with us. Nothing is hidden from his sight. He knows the past, the present, and the future, and he knows our very thoughts before we even know them ourselves. But more than that, He chooses to make His own thoughts known to His people. He chooses to be intimate with us. And he leads us out of our own decay and inclination toward evil, and into his own everlasting and healing nature. 

Psalm 140 

David writes, “Rescue me, O LORD, from evildoers; protect me from the violent. You are my God, my salvation. The LORD executes justice for the poor.” 

Psalm 141 

David writes, “O LORD, may my prayer be as incense. Do not turn my heart to evil. Let the righteous rebuke me. Keep me from the traps of the wicked.” 

Psalm 142 

This Davidic psalm opens with an introduction that states that this is a prayer from the time when David was in the cave. He writes, “I cry out to the LORD! When my spirit is faint, you know my path. Save me from my persecutors! You will deal bountifully with me."

Monday, September 17, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 129-135

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 129
Tuesday: Psalm 130
Wednesday: Psalm 131
Thursday: Psalm 132
Friday: Psalm 133
Saturday: Psalm 134
Sunday: Psalm 135

Introduction to Psalms 129-135

Psalm 129 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth. But the LORD has cut the cords of the wicked. May all who hate Zion be put to shame!”

Psalm 130 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “I cry to you, O LORD! If you kept a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness. O Israel, hope in the LORD!” 

Psalm 131 

In this Davidic psalm of ascents, the writer says, “My heart is not proud, O LORD. I have quietened my soul, like a weaned child with its mother. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD.” 

Psalm 132 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “Remember, O LORD, how David vowed, ‘I will find a place for the LORD.’ The LORD has chosen Zion: ‘This is my resting place forever.’”

The poet of Psalm 132 looked back to the covenant with David and to the history of the Ark of the Covenant as the basis for his prayer. 

Psalm 133 

In this Davidic psalm of ascents, the writer says, “How good it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil upon the head. There the LORD commanded his blessing.”

The oil of Aaron’s anointing (see Exodus 29 and Leviticus 21) saturated all the hair of his beard and ran down on his priestly robes, signifying his total consecration to holy service. 

Psalm 134 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the sanctuary. May the LORD bless you from Zion.”

Psalm 134 may be a dialogue of praise sung between Yahweh’s worshipers as they left the temple in the evening and the Levites who would guard it by night. The worshipers exhorted the Levites to continue to praise the Lord throughout the night, while the Levites in turn pronounced a benediction upon the congregants. 

Psalm 135 

The anonymous author of this psalm writes, “Praise the LORD! He is above all gods. He struck down many nations. Their idols are but silver and gold. O Israel, bless the LORD!”

Monday, September 10, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 122-128

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 122
Tuesday: Psalm 123
Wednesday: Psalm 124
Thursday: Psalm 125
Friday: Psalm 126
Saturday: Psalm 127
Sunday: Psalm 128

Introduction to Psalms 122-128

Psalm 122 

This Davidic psalm of ascents expresses the joy of Zion from the perspective of a pilgrim who had traveled there to worship. Pilgrimages were held three times annually, during the feasts of Passover, Firstfruits, and Tabernacles

The writer says, “I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!’ The tribes go up to give thanks. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” 

Psalm 123 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “As the eyes of servants look to their master, so our eyes look to the LORD. Have mercy on us! For we have endured much contempt.” 

Psalm 124 

In this Davidic psalm of ascents, the writer says, “If the LORD had not been on our side, attackers would have swallowed us alive. We have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD.” 

Psalm 125 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good. Peace be upon Israel.” 

Psalm 126 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “When the LORD brought back the captives, we were like dreamers. He has done great things. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” 

Psalm 127 

This song of ascents is attributed to David’s son Solomon. The writer says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” 

Psalm 128 

The anonymous author of this song of ascents writes, “Blessed are all who fear the LORD. You will eat the fruit of your labor. May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 116-121

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 116
Tuesday: Psalm 117
Wednesday: Psalm 118
Thursday: Psalm 119:1-56
Friday: Psalm 119:57-176
Saturday: Psalm 120
Sunday: Psalm 121

Introduction to Psalms 116-121

Psalm 116 

The psalmist says, “I love the LORD, for he heard my cry. When I was brought low, he saved me. What can I give for all his goodness? I will keep my vows.”

Psalm 116 is without a title in the Hebrew. The psalm was translated into the Greek Septuagint (about 250BC) in Hellenistic Egypt. There is a presence of Aramaisms in the psalm which has been interpreted by a few as evidence of a late date, though this is not definitive. The psalm draws heavily from other psalms.

Some have applied this psalm to the distresses of the Jews in the times of the Maccabees under Antiochus IV Epiphanes while a few others ascribe it to Hezekiah’s sickness recorded in Isaiah 38

However, many commentators today ascribe it to King David. If David were the author, it is not certain whether it was composed upon any particular occasion, or upon a general review of the many gracious deliverances God had wrought for him, out of six troubles and seven. The Syriac Church believes it was written on the occasion of Saul coming to the cave where David was hiding. 

Psalm 117 

With just two verses and sixteen words in Hebrew, psalm 117 is the shortest of all 150 psalms. In this psalm, the Gentiles are invited to join in praise of God. Christians view this as a fulfillment of God's promise of mercy to the gentiles, pointing to God's promise that all nations would be blessed in the seed of Abraham, who is Christ. The psalmist says, “Praise the LORD! For great is his love towards us.” 

Psalm 118 

This psalm’s themes are thanksgiving to God and reliance on God rather than on human strength. The writer says, “Give thanks to the LORD; for his love endures forever! The nations surrounded me; I cut them off! The LORD has become my salvation.” 

Psalm 119 

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Book of Psalms. It is also the longest chapter in the entire Bible. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem divided into sections based on the Hebrew alphabet. Each section begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, beginning with the letter “Aleph” and ending with the letter “Taw.”

The psalmist writes, “Blessed are those who walk in the law of the LORD. Teach me your decrees. I love your commands. Deliver me according to your promise.” 

Psalm 120 

This is known as "a song of ascents" which refers to it being ritually sung by the people as they ascended Mount Zion (Jerusalem) to offer sacrifices at the holy site

he anonymous writer says, "In my distress I cry to the LORD. Deliver me from a deceitful tongue. Woe to me! Too long have I lived among those who hate peace."

Psalm 121 

he anonymous writer of this psalm of ascents says, "I lift up my eyes to the hills; my help comes from the LORD. He who keeps you will not slumber. The LORD will keep you from all evil."