Tuesday, 26 August 2014

(239) August 27: Psalm 132-134 & 1 Corinthians 8

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­
As you read consider what God grants to his people.

To ponder:
Psalm 132 is particularly important in looking to God’s fulfilment of his promise to David through his descendents. It begins asking God to “remember” David, what he suffered in order to serve God as king, and his particular commitment to find a place for God to dwell in a temple (132v1-5). What is being asked is therefore on the grounds of God’s commitment to David in response to his faithfulness. 132v6 refers to the place the ark was kept before David determined to bring it up to the tabernacle in Jerusalem (see 1 Sam 7v1-2, 2 Sam 6v2-3). The psalm celebrates the journey, recounting the commitment of worshippers to go to the tabernacle to worship whilst calling on God to come there with his ark to rest (132v6-8). 132v9 then prays for pure worship in which the priests would be righteous and the worshippers joyful. It’s a prayer we might pray, as the Book of Common Prayer does, for church ministers and congregations.
            132v10 shows the psalm was composed after these events, with another anointed king praying he would not be rejected. This is the goal of the psalm. And the king may his request on the basis of God’s promise to forever keep one of David’s sons on the throne – provided they obey him (132v11-12). And the reason for God’s promise is given too: It is because he had chosen Zion as his dwelling and the place from which he would rule, blessing the city and its poor with provisions, doing just what was asked in verse 9, and enabling a “horn” (ie. reign of power) grow for David as his anointed, in which his enemies would be shamed and he would be crowned gloriously (132v13-18). Here “salvation” parallels “righteousness,” (132v9, 16) suggesting that the priests being “clothed in righteousness” (132v9) may refer to God acting righteously with respect to his covenant commitments by granting the people salvation (and so joy) through the priests’ work at the temple. The point is that God had always intended Jerusalem to be the place of his rule via David’s descendents, through whom he would provide for the people and ensure atonement for their sin. It is on this basis that the psalmist prays that he would not be rejected himself. It is this same commitment by the LORD that enables us to pray for the return of Christ, confident he will return and complete this work.
            Psalm 133 briefly declares the preciousness of a united people under their king. By likening it to the precious oil poured abundantly to consecrate Aaron as High Priest, the psalmist seems to want to portray how precious unity is, how joyful it should make us, and how it is a privileged mark of God setting his people apart to serve him as a holy priesthood. Moreover, just as dew waters vegetation, such unity is a means by which God grants the blessing of life evermore – presumably because people then encourage one-another on in their faith, love and obedience. So it is that Jesus said loving unity would be the privileged mark of his disciples, and the writer to the Hebrews, that meeting together helps us on to love and good deeds (Jn 13v35, Heb 10v24-25). It is therefore something we should cherish and protect.
            Concluding the psalms of ascent to the temple, Psalm 134 simply calls the Levites who serve in the temple at night to praise God with lifted hands, as was the practice in Israel; whilst praying that Israel’s covenant God (the LORD), who is also the Creator, would bless them from his dwelling place in Zion. With great simplicity it reflects the two-way nature of worship reflected throughout the psalms: God brings all his mighty power as creator to bear in blessing those who honour him, and all according to his covenant promises. Indeed, it is this blessing of life, in his salvation and provision, for which he is so worthy of praise.

Praying it home:       
Praise God for providing all that is necessary in Christ for our salvation. Pray that your church would be and remain genuinely united, to the spiritual benefit of its members.

Thinking further:                             
None today.

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