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Psalms 115 +116

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.

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Habakkuk 3:1-19

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:

Zeus

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.

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Habakkuk 2:1-20

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.

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Sermon Podcast: Is the LORD among us or not?

Listen to a sermon by the Rev. Daniel Haas commemorating the third Sunday in Lent based on Exodus 17:1-7. It was delivered at Provo Community United Church of Christ on March 27th 2011.

Is_the_LORD_among_us_or_not_2011-03-27.m4a Listen on Posterous

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Habakkuk 1:1-17

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?