More Good Advice from the Psalms

29 Oct

OK, so this is really October 29.  I did the last one at night and this blog has never figured out the right time.

Now, on with Psalm 34.  As I read through this psalm I am amazed that early theologians and church leaders wanted to make strong lines of delineation between the covenant made with the Hebrew people and the writings that came out of the reform movement in Judaism begun by Jesus of Nazareth.   This psalm has the essential concepts of Christian thought that are important in my faith life.  As with many of the psalms, this one begins with praise.

“I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.”

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful way to begin everyday and to encourage others in their day.  To tell them if things aren’t going well (always a possibility) that we can rejoice in God’s faithfulness.

“God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.”

I love these types of psalms because they sound so much like my life.  Again the psalmist is telling us to never hide our feelings from God and that calling out to God in times of difficulty is a good thing.  Obviously, it is not unusual for God’s people to get into trouble and need God to find hope.  I particularly like the imagine in this next verse.

“God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.”

I remember a friend who once talked to me about the importance is visualization.  She said during tough times, or when you were searching for healing – mental or physical – visualization could be a great tool.  So, next time you are feeling low imagine being surrounded by a circle of God’s angels.  Now angels is not something that is easy for me to visualize, but I can imagine good friends and the monks of my favorite monastery stand around me praying for me if life gets hard.  I remember when my Dad was in the hospital after his heart attack and going recovery from a very difficult surgery I posted my status on Facebook.  I remember it as being very simple, something like, “in the hospital praying for my Dad”.  I got comments from many friends saying they were praying for me too.  So, although I am not get with angels – this experience I can get on board with.

The psalmist continues with some good advice on being a follower of God.

“Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

15 God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

16 God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.”

The advice from the psalmist has no real difference from this teachings of Jesus.  Of course, it is from this texts that Jesus learned and grew in God’s grace.  I like this psalm because as much as there is comfort for those who run to God for guidance and for shelter, there is a separation for those who place themselves in opposition to God’s ways.

The final verses of the psalm speak again of God’s rescue and care.  These verses remind me particularly of the hopes of the Christian way.

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.

21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

22 God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

A thousand years before Jesus was done, and two thousand years before the advent of atonement theology; the psalmist articulates God’s redemption of those who are enslaved.  There is nothing new under the sun.  For me it is good to know that God has been understood as a God of saving grace since human beings have been describing what it is to be in relationship with God.

Blessings and peace upon this wet day brought to you by SANDY and climate change.

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One Response to “More Good Advice from the Psalms”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger November 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I love, “Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?”

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