Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Word from Papa

I'm afraid I have not been posting as much on this blog lately, but I had a few thoughts from the Psalms and I will venture to share them here.  I love the Psalms; they are a huge encouragement in my walk with God.  I'm also an engineer, and I like categories and systems.  Sometimes it can be hard to see what a particular Psalm is getting at (most notably with the cursing-Psalms, the inspiration and authenticity of which I fully uphold).  So how to think about the Psalms?

Take the time and read through Ps. 1 & 2:

    Blessed is the man
        who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners,
        nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
    but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
        and on his law he meditates day and night.
    He is like a tree
        planted by streams of water
    that yields its fruit in its season,
        and its leaf does not wither.
    In all that he does, he prospers.
    The wicked are not so,
        but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
    Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
        nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
    for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
        but the way of the wicked will perish.
-Psalm 1

    Why do the nations rage
        and the peoples plot in vain?
    The kings of the earth set themselves,
        and the rulers take counsel together,
        against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
    “Let us burst their bonds apart
        and cast away their cords from us.”
    He who sits in the heavens laughs;
        the Lord holds them in derision.
    Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
        and terrify them in his fury, saying,
    “As for me, I have set my King
        on Zion, my holy hill.”
    I will tell of the decree:
    The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
        today I have begotten you.
    Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
        and the ends of the earth your possession.
    You shall break them with a rod of iron
        and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.”
    Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
        be warned, O rulers of the earth.
    Serve the LORD with fear,
        and rejoice with trembling.
    Kiss the Son,
        lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
        for his wrath is quickly kindled.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
-Psalm 2

Ps.2 ends like Ps.1 began, reflecting on the blessedness of the righteous (who take refuge in him).  These are about the only psalms in Book 1 that are not superscripted with author or occasion.  They concern themselves with the righteous, the wicked (both individually and corporately), the Lord, and the Messiah.  There are two perspectives presented, that of the righteous on earth, and that of the Lord in heaven.  In both cases, the story is one of God ultimately vindicating His decrees and His people.  Perhaps you see where I'm going.

I submit that anything in the Psalter may be read as an affirmation of or an appeal to one or the other of Psalms 1 and 2.  The cursing-psalms are appealing to Ps.1 - the wicked are not supposed to thrive, God, so please do something!  The royal psalms and many of the hymn-psalms affirm Ps.2, with David or Solomon prefiguring Jesus the true Messiah.  Many of the later psalms hold out to God the injustice of the nations raging and plotting against God's people.  The laments frequently follow a path from the psalmist's affliction (caused by inversion of Ps.1) to a declaration of Ps.2-like majesty and sovereignty of God, to a Ps.1-like conclusion that the psalmist will follow righteous paths and trust God to uphold justice.

So as we see orphanages with callous, indifferent "caretakers", when we see children abandoned by parents, when we are cut to the heart and beg God for righting of wrongs, we are joining with the psalmists in longing for the restoration of the righteous. 

When a child comes home to a loving family, when God calls one of His own won people out of this world into their reward, when we see abuses corrected and justice done, we join with the psalmists and celebrate the path of the godly. 

When nations abuse their orphans, when governments separate families, we join with the psalmist in singing the praise of God in heaven who holds the nations in derision, and we beg for the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

So enter the Psalms between these beautiful pillars.  Use them as guideposts as you join with the psalmists in crying to God.  Look back to them often, and I hope that you will profit more and more as you study, learn, and trust in the Word of God, particularly the Psalms.

-Papa

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