Thanksgiving isn’t just a day. It is the fundamental, permanent stance of a follower of God.
The bright burning intensity of righteous anger may still fail to illuminate our desperate need for reconciliation. (a post by Jeff HansPetersen)
The Lord is “robed in majesty,” yes, and high and lifted up, but the scripture he has given us: it is given through our own mouths, and portrays our own plight, is right down here on the ground with us, in the mud and the blood and the gore.
Warnings from biblical lexicography James Barr was for many years, I think, the scholar most feared by other members of the biblical-studies guild. He had a knack for spotting and exposing fallacies that were widely accepted by his peers as standard practice. Probably the best-known example of his work was his book The Semantics ofContinue reading “Illegitimate totality transfer (on praying Psalm 44)”
Really, Psalmist? Again? More tears, more moaning, more self-pity? More in number than the hairs of your head? So you have counted them? Either the hairs or the enemies? Good lord, if you had a violin in addition to that harp somebody in your own house would have to shoot you. Are you sure aboutContinue reading “Claiming innocence (Psalm 69)”
Psalm 1 is about two kinds of people: wicked and righteous. The point is not polarization (setting up an Us versus a Them, two fixed and opposed groups) but moral choice: the whole point is that we can, we inevitably do, decide which type to be, and we are being urged to be one wayContinue reading “The choice we make (Psalm 1)”
To understand the structure of the cosmos and expound its workings in a way that acknowledges its creator is to be filled with wonder and overflow with praise.
Abiding in God’s love does not make us pious dopes who think (or pretend) that everything is always wonderful. It enables us to see evil clearly, call it what it is, and understand that in the end it is powerless before the power of Love.
To be is to be known by God. God’s omniscience is knowledge not only of everything but of everyone. There is no one whom God does not know. My existence resides in the fact that God knows me. My identity is this: I am who God knows that I am. And since God speaks, andContinue reading “Defining human existence (Psalm 139)”
We have so many elaborate ways of saying “There is no God” in our hearts without saying it out loud. We are such fools.
What is my relationship with Scripture? How do I experience it? How do I describe it? What is it to me? In certain stages of my formation there were voices that emphasized words like “inerrancy.” In truth, though, despite my formation in evangelical circles, these were never the voices of my own teachers. To beContinue reading “Psalm 119:17–24 (Gimel)”
The point of Psalm 139 is not theological speculation, and certainly not prooftexting for contemporary partisan politics, but to move me to desire to seek God’s leading.
Psalm 50 opens with an announcement of coming of God to call the people of the covenant to account. On the day of judgment God shines forth and “does not keep silent” but speaks forth. The reader of this psalm should remember the nonsilence of the heavenly Judge with some trepidation on arrival at verseContinue reading “You thought that I was one just like yourself (Psalm 50)”
How shall I use my voice? The opening lines of Psalm 142 are striking, with their repeated “qoli le-Adonai”: “My voice to the Lord . . . my voice to the Lord.” I have a voice too. How will I use mine? To whom will I direct mine? I am not in the situation ofContinue reading “My voice to the Lord (Psalm 142)”
Zion, Zionism, and Christian interpretation of the Psalms of Ascents.
What do we mean when we say, “I am a companion to all them that fear thee”? What are the aims and limits of friendship in Christ?
Talk to God. Praise God ALONE. Prayer for the leader is focused on the leader’s serving the good of the poor of your people.
To cover complacency, inaction, and complicity in injustice by appropriating to oneself the “Fret not” that was spoken to someone else is bad faith.
Worship and prayer depend on a certain self-location vis-à-vis the divine “You” and the profane “they/them.” In the attached display of the ESV text of Psalm 26 I have used blue highlighting for the divine “You,” green for the worshipful and morally resolute “I,” and yellow for the profane “they/them.” It would be a mistakeContinue reading “You, me, them: the moral mindset of Psalm 26”
What is the one thing that we human beings can habitually say to each other in order to stand our best chance of fulfilling our telos as human beings?
In the book of Psalms, the entries in the 90s are grand, profound, and glorious. Is this because the reader who enters into them gets grand and glorious feelings, or because the aesthetic quality of their poesy is high, or because they refer to realities that are objectively awesome? (And I realize that “objectively awesome”Continue reading “This is my story, this is my song: the story we enter when praying Psalms 95–97”
We have been living the Thousand Days Elsewhere, but even now The Presence is available. Let us journey toward joy together.
Why should we let the Psalms—or our own prayers—be ruined by the inclusion of unworthy emotions and desires?
This is the only possible solution to the problem of failure in self-knowledge, the problem of the locked room of delusion and self-deception: to be known by The Other, to invite and open oneself to the knowledge that only The Other has, but which The Other has offered to share.
Fear is a fearful thing. It can cause blindness. It can undermine our rationality. It can make us shoot our wife or betray our country. It can be both a symptom and a cause of unfaithfulness to our God.
Psalm 50 is a psalm of judgment. When God’s people fall in with thieves and adulterers, God rejects their sacrifices.
What would it mean to take the first three verses of Psalm 34 as an individual and communal rule of life?
St. Athanasius said that the Psalter contains in itself a perfect summary of every other part of the Bible. I think we could also say: Psalm 117—the shortest and simplest of the Psalms—sums up the entirety of the Psalter, and so in some sense the entirety of the Bible.
We are given another opportunity to love our neighbor as ourselves, which must in the final analysis from a godly, biblical perspective be the sole aim and justification for participating in politics.
The more usual, expected phrase is “fear and trembling.” But there comes a time for fear and laughing. Psalm 52 contemplates the fate of the powerful person who is evil and boastful, contrasting it with the faithfulness of God toward the righteous, meaning the people who live in covenant relationship with God.
Have you ever noticed how many times Psalm 145 uses the words ALL and EVERY? (They translate the same Hebrew word, KOL.) I am lowercasing LORD below to let all the KOLs stand out. We could also note three occurrences of L’OLAM VA-ED, FOR EVER AND EVER; these I have italicized. I will extol thee,Continue reading “All and every, for ever and ever (Psalm 145)”
By the waters of New Zion, here we dance and sing! We have long since retuned our lyres to the tonal system of this blessed land. Our leaders smile on us and swear that we are chosen of the Lord and precious in his sight so we say they are too. Our tongues flap freelyContinue reading “By the waters of New Zion (Psalm 137, nationalized)”
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,which cannot be moved, but abides forever.As the mountains surround Jerusalem,so the LORD surrounds his people,from this time on and forevermore.For the scepter of wickedness shall not reston the land allotted to the righteous,so that the righteous might not stretch outtheir hands to do wrong.Do good,Continue reading “Psalm 125: On earth as it is in heaven?”
Oh, how I love your law!It is my meditation all day long.Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,for it is always with me.I have more understanding than all my teachers,for your decrees are my meditation.I understand more than the aged,for I keep your precepts.I hold back my feet from every evil way,in order toContinue reading “ReMEMbering Psalm 119:97–104”
Psalms 95 through 101 utter the praise of the Lord in an unobstructed way. The Psalmist focuses on the Lord’s mighty acts of deliverance on behalf of his people, and joy wells up and overflows as the natural response to the goodness of God. Psalm 102 drops down into a place of suffering and distress,Continue reading “The dark turn of Psalm 106”
What do we mean when we call the Scriptures divine revelation? Many things. One thing we mean: Scripture is text that expresses and inculcates a way of seeing everything (i.e., our lived world, everything that we are to some extent capable of seeing). It is transcendent-truthful vision: “Transcendent” meaning that it shows more deeply thanContinue reading “Psalm 104: Introduction”
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