Featured Post

Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Psalms 101-105

Psalms 101

This Psalm was written by David. I have not found any indication of his age when he wrote this. It could have been in his innocent youth, or it could have been after the confession of his tryst with Bathsheba. In either case, it proclaims David's intention to live a sin free life. From my own experience, I would guess this was written before he committed adultery and arranged the death of Uriah.

He begins with praise and then goes on to detail the matters of selfishness and arrogant behavior he will not tolerate.  He includes the behaviors he will not allow in his household. He focuses briefly on the things his eyes behold. What we see, we sometimes imitate. Beware what you watch, for it may inhabit you.

He denounced faithlessness and perverse people and their actions. He put the slanderers and the haughty in the same classification. These judgments make me think he had not yet experienced the general sins of the population, for these things are everywhere and evident in all people.

I applaud his intention not to associate with the unwholesome and to separate himself from those who commit evil, but he seems to think he can tell at a glance who is worthy to be respected. Maybe in later years he moderated his opinion and became more forgiving.

Return to his opening lines. He valued God's love and justice. His intent was to let that be his guide for life. May we follow in that goal. 

Psalms 102

The author of this Psalm is not identified beyond the description of him as afflicted and in distress. The Psalm begins with a litany of his anguish and vivid descriptions of his anxiety from vs. 1 through 11. In vs. 12 he changes his focus to note the attributes of God.

He begins with pleas to be heard. He beseeches God to see his problems and hear his cries.  He feels his time escaping. He describes the pain he feels in his soul as a bodily sensation. He can't enjoy his food and it tastes like ashes. He is losing weight and describes himself as "skin and bones." He compares himself to a desert owl. In ancient literature, the owl is bad omen forecasting evil times and consequences.

He groans aloud in distress. He seems to indicate this is somehow shameful. He has enemies who use his name like a curse. His distress is so compelling that he has lost all his companions, he likens himself to a bird on a roof. He is alone. He has no friends or support. God, too, has abandoned him. His drink is mingled with tears. He has no recourse. God's wrath is directed toward him, and God has thrown him aside. He sees the darkness closing in and he senses he has no hope.

In vs. 12 he returns to the praise of God and His glory. He is still conscious of his own weakness, but God will endure and restore Zion. I assume this Psalm was written after the return from bondage and Exile. The writer mentions the destruction of the city, Even in the destroyed state, God's people still love for stones. He is confident that God will arise and have compassion on Jerusalem. Her appointed time has come.

Many nations will fear the Lord when he appears in His Glory.
He broke my plans, I yield to Him, He cut short my life, and like the earth, my time will end. You, Lord, will stand forever. The descendants of your faithful will worship you forever.

Psalms 103

In this Psalm, David is the writer, and he is speaking to himself. He addresses his own soul. He lists the characteristics of God, the continuous benefits God freely bestows. Then he makes a summarizing statement: God brings righteousness and justice to the oppressed and all are provided for.  The King James Version is worded slightly differently: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." It is a plaintive cry of one who is alone, God is his only resource. 

He goes into detail about God's love toward us and the lengths he goes to to insure our forgiveness and make us aware of His everlasting love. David's metaphors are, both memorable and revealing. He compares God's love toward the wayward sinners to the love of a father for his minor children. We are so conscious of our own lives and ambitions we feel imortal, but God knows that we are dust. When the wind blows on us we are gone, but God remembers us and promises us a future of joy and glory.

David closes the Psalm with one more injunction to his soul to praise the Lord.

Psalms 104 

There is no attribution of authorship in Psalms 104, but it fits very well with the ones that come before it. It praises and glorifies God's power and majesty.

The writer describes God wearing light like a garment. I like the metaphors used in this Psalm. The clouds are his chariot and he rides on the wings of the winds. Flames of fire are his servant. We feel very powerful when we find ways to use the power of natural elements, but to God, these elements are his servants. They obey his commands. The Psalmist describes them as orderly and obedient to God's design, yet they are still beyond our reach. I am amazed at the scientific descriptions that account creation as a product of evolution without input from God, but when they behold a new finding in a telescope or a microscope, they exclaim "Oh, God, look at that!" Even denying the power or action of God, they still have no other way to express their wonder and amazement.

May we who know and seek His communion also revel in the wonder of his works.