Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Old Psalm

I first read through the Psalms when I was in highschool.  It started out as a curiosity thing.  I had noticed that many Bibles came in just a New Testament and Psalms.  I also carried around a stereotype of older people getting all sentimental about the Psalms.  I'm not sure if it was based in any kind of reality, or if it was a Hollywood thing.  I think I had also been told that during times when, and for people for whom, books were not readily available, the Psalms had been used as a summary of all the truths of the Bible.

So I was curious.  I read through all the Psalms and kept a little notebook to summarize each one.  I was astounded at the violence depicted in some of them.  I was also confused by the fact that in many places they seemed to encourage animosity and revenge.  But I kept plugging along.  I think I might still have that notebook packed away with some highschool memorabilia.  It might be interesting to see my interpretations.  But probably it would just be embarrassing.

We've tried to make a point of including readings form the Psalms in our family devotion time.   Even if the kids don't always understand what they read, they are still hearing God's Word.  But besides that, it's important to lay a groundwork of familiarity with the more difficult portions of Scripture. 

As an aside, Joe has also tried to do this for our family with the prophetical books.  He periodically includes them in our family devotional readings, both to teach, and to build a familiarity.  But I must confess to still being totally clueless and even sometimes irritable about these readings.  I grit my teeth and tell myself it's for our own good.  But they are so difficult for me to wrap my brain around that I get a bit squirrelly about it.  I suspect it comes from my own vanity.  Since I am so unfamiliar with them, I feel inadequate to pass the wisdom from such portions of God's Word on to my children.  I confess it is hard for me to humble myself to sit and learn along with the children.  Thankfully God's Word works in our hearts, and in the hearts of our children, in spite of our lack of familiarity,  understanding, and even through a peevish attitude.

Throughout the years I've picked up a few things that make reading the Psalms easier.  I've been taught some of the literary devices common in Hebrew poetry.   I'm more familiar now with the cadences and the vocabulary that I used to be.   I do still encounter some sections that are difficult.  But for the most part, I've come to very much appreciate reading the Psalms.

This morning, I discovered a new Psalm.  Yes, I do realize it's been there all along, but it's new to me.  Psalm 65 does not seem to be as familiar as are some other Psalm, but there are many things to enjoy in it.

In verse three the Psalmist clearly speaks of our sin and God's salvation through Christ.

This is followed immediately in the next verse, 4, with an acknowledgement of God's election.  We cannot choose God, He chooses us.  Later in the same verse, we see an allusion to the Means of Grace.  Where do we go to hear God's truth?  Where do we find message of His goodness?  In His house and His courts.

The middles verses, 5-7, speak of God's might.  We read of His power over the natural world, with references to creation, the flood, and the many times He miraculously calmed (and Jesu
s would later calm) the seas.

Verse 8 is a kind of transition.  It starts with more of God's almighty power, but finishes by talking about how such things affect us, humanity, here on earth.

And the rest of the Psalm, continuing through to the end is a testimony to God's providential care.  The imagery in this last section is profoundly rich.  I was planning to highlight my favorite word pictures, but they are all too good.  I find I cannot choose.
Psalm 65

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion;
And to You the vow shall be performed.
2 O You who hear prayer,
To You all flesh will come.
3 Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions,
You will provide atonement for them.

4 Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.

5 By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us,
O God of our salvation,
You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
And of the far-off seas;
6 Who established the mountains by His strength,
Being clothed with power;
7 You who still the noise of the seas,
The noise of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
8 They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs;
You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

9 You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
10 You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.

11 You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
12 They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.

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