“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 20: AUGUST 11
Unlike the history of people, places and events that makes up the first half of the Bible (yes, we’re now halfway through! Woohoo!), most of the psalms are you talking to or about God. Rather than being spoken to or lectured to, you’re the one doing the speaking. You’re center-stage. The words are coming from you. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the psalms are so accessible, even to unbelievers. They speak your heart without you having to say a word.
- All of the psalms (except one) that we read yesterday were written by David. Today’s reading is a mixed bag of psalmists that includes David, Asaph, Moses, and a few others whose names are unfamiliar to me. There are also psalms that are uncredited. Determining who wrote which psalm is a whole theological field in itself, which we’re obviously not going to go into here. The only reason I mention all the different psalmists in today’s reading is that the tone and content of a work reflect the author, so having different authors means that we have a broader range of tone and content. It’s all still talking to and about God, but in slightly different voices.
- Lots of retelling about the exodus from Egypt in these psalms. Spiritual rebirth is an exodus out of spiritual bondage to Satan and into the spiritual freedom of God’s Kingdom on Earth. If you’re genuinely born-again, you’re in the Kingdom in the same way as the children of Israel were in the wilderness. You’re supernaturally protected by God and you’re being taught by God, but you’re also being tested to see whether or not you genuinely want what God is offering you – the Promised Land of Heaven. Pay close attention to what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness and learn from their mistakes so that you don’t end up as most of them ended up. That’s the reason why the story of the 40 years in the wilderness is told and retold throughout scripture – it’s a cautionary tale.
- Jesus is all over these psalms! We either see him in lines that he spoke in the Gospels, or we see him in lines that are written about him. As I mentioned yesterday, the whole Bible is all about Jesus, not just the New Testament. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of redemption to his people, and the Bible – from start to finish – is the story of our redemption.
- Psalm 91 has been getting a lot of press lately in Christian communities because of the promise that God will not let any pestilence come near his people. But as we’ve seen in earlier readings, God did let pestilence come near those who said they were God’s people but acted as if they were the devil’s. Yes, God will protect his people from everything until it’s their time, as long as they keep his Commandments and treat others (including their enemies) right. If you don’t keep God’s Commandments and don’t treat others right, the protections promised in Psalm 91 will not apply to you.
- Jesus quotes the opening lines of Psalm 110 as evidence of why the Messiah can’t be David’s son. I would reference the same lines as evidence that Jesus can’t be God.
- When I was in high school, I played the role of Mary Magdalen in our school’s production of the musical Godspell. I couldn’t sing very well, and the Mary Magdalen character didn’t have a solo, so that role had my name written all over it in more ways than one. When the call went out for performers, so many kids auditioned that the director decided to have two casts: an “A” and a “B”. The “A” cast was made up mostly of Grade 12 students who already had theatrical experience and were really good singers (some were professionally trained), while the “B” cast was made up mostly of younger students (I was in my first year of high school), and none of us had much by way of training. We were, however, very enthusiastic and loved being in the spotlight. That made up for whatever we lacked in talent and experience.
- I mention this because most of David’s Psalm 103 (which, by the way, I just realized today was written by David) is a song in Godspell called “Bless the Lord”. So when I read Psalm 103 today, I got to thinking about our “B” cast in high school. Everyone in it eventually came to God. The guy who played Jesus gave up his rock band and the lifestyle that went with it and became a pastor. He was older than the rest of us in the cast (I think he was in his second or third year of Grade 12), but if ever anyone “looked like Jesus”, that guy was a dead ringer – tall, lanky, bony-faced, long hair, and a way about him that just naturally drew people. Whenever I saw him in the school hallways, he had an entourage trailing behind him. Like me, he wasn’t much of a singer, but his natural charisma and enthusiasm for the role made up for it. He ended up marrying his then-girlfriend, who was also in the “B” cast (a beautiful girl and beautiful singer).
- As I said, everyone in that cast eventually came to God on some level. I’ve posted the Psalm 103 Godspell song below, for anyone who’s interested in hearing it.
- I don’t know about you, but whenever I read the “long psalm” (the one that’s divided under the letters of the Hebrew alphabet), I want to do and be everything it says. I want to completely and entirely live in God’s blessings and within his boundaries. I don’t want to stray even one inch outside them. That’s the beauty and the power of these psalms that are written in first person: The psalmists’ words become yours.
So what jumped out at you today? Are you as enamored with the psalms as I am? Do they speak your heart, too? Which psalms in particular had something to teach you this time around? And have you ever written a psalm?
The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is on PDF directly below: