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Psalms | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Psalms

The Conversation of Faith

Last week, we began a four-week series on the Psalms of Orientation. Sometimes, the Psalms are seen as quaint poems that we use during difficult days or at funerals. I hope during this series, you will see the deep truths they teach us.

Walter Brueggemann reminds us of the beauty of the psalter, “The Book of Psalms provides the most reliable theological, pastoral, and liturgical resource given us in the biblical tradition. In season and out of season, generation after generation, faithful women and men turn to the Psalms as a most helpful resource for conversation with God about things that matter most.

The Psalms are helpful because they are a genuinely dialogical literature that expresses both sides of the conversation of faith. On the one hand, Israel’s faithful speech addressed to God is the substance of the Psalms.

The Psalms do this so fully and so well because they articulate the entire gamut of Israel’s speech to God, from profound praise to the utterance of unspeakable anger and doubt. On the other hand, as Martin Luther understood so passionately, the Psalms are not only addressed to God. They are a voice of the gospel, God’s good word addressed to God’s faithful people.

In this literature the community of faith has heard and continues to hear the sovereign speech of God, who meets the community in its depths of need and in its heights of celebration. The Psalms draw our entire life under the rule of God, where everything may be submitted to the God of the gospel."

This week, as we look at Psalm 113, I pray that you will open your heart to God's good word addressed to you.

Reorientation Psalm

Sunday, we will wrap up our series on the Psalms of Orientation. This week, we’ll look at a Reorientation Psalm. These psalms play a vital role in our lives because they give voice to the times of loss and hurt with a new sense of hope.

Last week with the Disorientation Psalms, we looked at speaking to God through loss and hurt. This week, we turn the corner to address the disorientation in new terms.

Walter Brueggemann writes, “…the Psalms regularly bear witness to the surprising gift of new life just when none had been expected. That new orientation is not a return to the old stable orientation, for there is no such going back. The psalmists know that we can never go home again. Once there has been an exchange of real truthfulness, as there is here between Yahweh and Israel, there is no return to the pre-truthful situation.”

That is the beauty of these psalms. They invite us into the reality of truthfulness with our God. I believe we would all affirm God's knowledge of us. Many of us learned Luke 12:6-7 in Sunday school as children. "What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows."

If God knows us that well, why do we think we hide parts of ourselves from Him? I know it’s a little scary to think anyone knows us that well, but you are valued by Him.

This Sunday, we will look at Psalm 27. I encourage you to read through it and prepare your heart for God's voice. It is my prayer that we can join the psalmist and pray, "Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming'" (Psalms 27:7-8).

May we come and talk to Him.

Between the Times

We are in the midst of our “Between the Times” series. This title comes from the understanding that these psalms (Psalms 120-134) were psalms sung as the people traveled to the temple. For us, as pilgrims traveling this life, we too are called to sing. These psalms may be sung as we are ‘between the times’. We are between this world and the next. We are journeying from our life of sin to holiness. We travel from home to work and back again. We travel from home to church.

We are people on the move.

Last Sunday, we looked at Psalm 124. This psalm is one that meets us in the difficulty of life. “…if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;” We are reminded that it is the Lord who is on our side.

My question this morning is this, “Are we willing to place all our trust in Him?” The psalmist is not talking about our culture's idea of the 'good life'. He has not escaped life without any scratches. He has in fact been rescued from the flood. It was God who has kept him safe. Our God is one who wants us to rest in Him. Our God wants us to ask the tough questions– He knows that He is larger than anything you face.

The last thing I would like to point out is that these psalms are to be sung by the people of God. These psalms are not sung in isolation. When we go through the ‘floods’, we must remember that we go through them together. One of the devil’s favorite lies is to tell you that you are alone. The psalmist even reminds us in 124, “let Israel now say…” This is a passage that is all about community. Your hurts, disappointments, floods, and snares are communal. You are not alone. In this world of increased isolation, do not let this point go by you quickly.

May we find our help "in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 124:8).