Yesterday’s Reading was Psalm 115. Today it’s Psalm 116.
I want to use this opportunity to look at the book of Psalms in its entirety. The most comprehensive look at the Architecture of the Book of Psalms came from Erich Zenger who passed away on East Sunday 2010:
1-2 framework – prooemium: torah + messiah/Zion/reign of God
3-41 1st book: psalms of David (3-14,15-24,25-34,35-41)
41:14 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
42-72 2nd book: psalms of Korah (42-49); psalm of Asaph (50); psalms of David (51-72)
72:18f Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.19Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen.
73-89 3rd book: psalms of Asaph (73-83); psalms of Korah (84f, 87-89); 86 psalm of David
89:53 Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen and Amen.
90-106 4th book: Moses composition (90-92); reign of YHWH (93-100); David composition (101-106)
106:48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the Lord!
107-145 5th book: psalms of praise (Toda) (107 and 145; reign of YHWH); psalms of David (108f and 138-145); Alphabet. Torapsalms (111f and 119); Hallel (113-118); pilgrimage psalms (120-137)
145,21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.
146-150 framework – final Hallel (10x Hallelujah)
So our two psalms are the centerpiece of the Full Hallel that consists of six Psalms (113–118), which are said as a unit, on joyous occasions. I can see why.
Today’s Reading is Habakkuk 3:1-19.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image”. Yeah, right. Folks in the Bible do that all the time.
Look at Habakkuk:
Verse 4 He comes with the brightness of lightning; light flashes from his hand, there where his power is hidden.
- The God of lightning is called Zeus (Roman Jupiter). Sure it makes sense to talk about our God with images of strength that others can use.
Verse 8 You rode upon the clouds; the storm cloud was your chariot, as you brought victory to your people.
- Not only Zeus but most solar deities drive a chariot. The God of the Bible is no different.
Verse 14 Your arrows pierced the commander of his army when it came like a storm to scatter us, gloating like those who secretly oppress the poor.
- Our God is not weak but heavily armed. He can shoot our enemies like all ancient archers.
Today’s Reading is Habakkuk 2:1-20.
The second half of Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted by some of the earliest Christian writers. Although this passage is only three words in the original Hebrew (וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה׃) Paul the Apostle quotes this verse twice in his epistles, in Romans 1:17 and again in Galatians 3:11. In doing so, Paul extends Habakkuk’s original concept of righteous living at the present time into a future life. The same verse is quoted in Hebrews 10:37-38, where Habakkuk’s vision is tied to Christ and used to comfort the church during a period of persecution.
One needs to keep in mind that a צַדִּ֖יק is not just a good guy or a nice person but a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters.
Today’s Reading is Habakkuk 1:1-17.
Sometimes the Reflection of the American Bible Society is really worthwhile:
According to the Law of Moses, the people of Israel were to treat each other with fairness. Yet many of the Lord’s prophets accused the people and their leaders of being unjust. In verse 2, Habakkuk asks, “O LORD, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence?” Do you ever talk to God about the violence and injustice you see in the world? How can prayer support the ways in which churches work for justice?
Today’s Reading is Daniel 9:1-19.
Enter the Bible notes:
“Daniel’s prayer provides a fine model of supplication. Daniel petitions God to act for God’s own sake (9:17), out of God’s mercy (9:18), and out of regard for the people and city with whom God has identified (9:19). In a sense, God’s reputation is on the line, because God has attached God’s own name to Israel. However, Daniel has no room for petitioning on the basis of Israel’s righteousness. Guilt leads to confession of sins but does not preclude petitioning for changed conditions.”
Today’s Reading is Nehemiah 9:1-38.
Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles combined are the works of a Chronicler’s History. Today’s passage has their theology in a nutshell: when the people ignore God things are going bad. So here we have – once again – a huge service of penitence.
The one thing that struck me most in this liturgy is the ‘bulletin style’ it has. We get to read an outline of the service and even extensive lists of people participating:
- Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani. They prayed aloud to the LORD their God.
- The following Levites gave a call to worship: Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah.
Those are not simply ancient and hard-to-pronounce names but actually fellow worshippers of ours as well. We use their texts, their rites. They are us. The list might include your name or lay liturgists in your church, the deacons and readers and Sunday school teachers and everybody who plays a role in the worship event. The overall message is: names matter because people do.
Today’s Reading is 2 Chronicles 7:1-22.
As part of the dedicatory service for Solomon’s temple we read the following: “The priests blew trumpets while all the people stood.” Aren’t you supposed to sit down in church?
- No way: “Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation. The rise of the sermon as a central act of Christian worship, especially in Protestantism, made the pew a standard item of church furniture.”
CNN reports that the new Book of Mormon Musical is set to open on Broadway. It was written by “South Park” creators Mark Stone and Trey Parker, along with Robert Lopez, who wrote the Broadway hit “Avenue Q.”
So it can be regarded as Part II of one of the best South Park episodes ever: All About the Mormons?
Today’s Reading is 2 Chronicles 6:18-42.
Solomon’s prayer to God continues in today’s reading. The King wants to make sure that his temple is the only legit place for worship. This prayer is not actually prayer to but more a declaration to the people – in the following cases I want you to turn to my central authority:
Verse 22 When people are accused of wronging others and are brought to your altar in this Temple to take an oath that they are innocent
Verse 24 When your people Israel are defeated by their enemies
Verse 26 When you hold back the rain
Verse 28 When there is famine in the land or an epidemic or the crops are destroyed by scorching winds or swarms of locusts, or when your people are attacked by their enemies, or when there is disease or sickness among them
Over and over again the king repeats: “Then they will know that this Temple I have built is where you are to be worshiped.”
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