Category Archives: Psalms

#CCLent17 / Day 30 / April 4 / Psalm 22’s Victorious Ending

Death-of-Christ-Background-Psalm-22-011Jesus’ words from the cross include Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…” We’ve looked at 2 other crucifixion references further into the Psalm. I’m convinced Jesus could only utter the first sentence but would have known the whole Psalm, the LAST words of which were filled with victory and fulfillment that would be explicitly voiced in the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of ALL nations!” Look at Psalm 22:25-31

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

The cross was not a defeat. It was the world’s greatest victory! It was the promise of the ancient covenant with Abraham, “ThRough you, all the peoples of the earth will be blessed!”

Memorize and meditate on the promises of God! They will sustain you as you take up your cross!

#CCLent17 / Day 27 / March 31 / Enduring the Cross

Digital Photo File Name:DP321350.tif Online Publications Edited By Michelle Ma for TOAH 10_27_15
Rembrandt, The Three Crosses

I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display; 
    people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

Psalm 22 continues with a hard-to-deny description of Jesus’ Crucifixion centuries before Golgotha. The thirst, the mangled bones and joints, even dividing his garments. It must have added to his agony to reflect on this Psalm that begins, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” Tomorrow we’ll see “the rest of the story.” This Psalm is not through. The ending will encapsulate the mysterious, upside-down victory of “trampling down death by death!”

#CCLent17 / Day 26 / March 30 / Mocked                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Duccio Di Buoninsegna
Duccio Di Buoninsegna

“But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”


Psalm 22:6-8 is another unmistakable cry-forward to the lips of Jesus on the cross. Only v. 1 (“My God, My God…”) is recorded in the Gospels, but it was not uncommon for a Jew to recite the first verse while also knowing the rest of the Psalm by heart! Did Jesus silently suffer the humiliation of mockery prophesied hundreds of years before?

#CCLent17 / Day 25 / March 29 / Psalm 22 on the lips of Jesus

eloi-eloiMy God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
(Psalm 22:1)

This week we are looking at the voice of Christ in the Psalms (see Day 24).

What would the disciples make of Jesus’ lament from Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Would they be grateful that the book of Psalms allows us to express such an emotion before God, or would they find their trust in God shaken to the core?  (Kathleen Norris, in God For Us, p.171)

This is perhaps the most famous Psalm quote of Jesus, which is from the cross. (see Matthew 27:45-47)  It is “the canticle of the Lord’s suffering and death.” Of course God the Father did not forsake His Son. But Jesus, in the Psalm gives voice to the feeling of abandonment as he takes on himself the sins of the world. In coming days we’ll look at how this Psalm is filled with other direct references to Jesus’ passion and resurrection!

Read and pray through the whole of Psalm 22 this week (as I believe Jesus would have recited and prayed this whole Psalm which he had memorized!)

#CCLent17 / Day 24 / March 28 / Hearing Christ in the Psalms

solitude of jesus image
‘Solitude of Christ,’ M. Dennis

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
    save me from all my pursuers and deliver me
(Psalm 7:1)

The Psalms are the most “human” of the Bible’s sacred texts, reflecting like a mirror every emotion and condition. Yet, as Patrick Reardon explains, there is another voice we need to hear:

The humanism of the Psalter is a humanism rooted in the Incarnation. The Psalter is not human merely because it speaks for man in general, but because it speaks for Christ. The underlying voice of the Psalms is not simply “man,” but the Man. To enter into the prayer of this book is not merely to share the sentiments of King David, or Asaph, or one of the other inspired poets. Indeed, in a theological sense the voices of these men are secondary, hardly more important than our own. The foundational voice of the Psalms, the underlying bass line of its harmony is, rather, the voice of Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man….To pray this psalm properly is to enter into the mind of the Lord in the context of His redemptive Passion.    (Christ in the Psalms, Psalm 7)

Read and pray Psalm 7. This week we will look at other Psalms in which we clearly hear Jesus’ underlying voice .

#CCLent17 / Day 23 / March 27 / I Will Remember

‘Job at Prayer,’ Marc Chagall

The Psalms make us uncomfortable because they dont let us deny – either the depth of our pain or the possibility of its transformation into praise. We commit ourselves to being changed by the Psalms, allowing the words to work on us, and sometimes to work us over. The Psalms are unrelenting in their realism. They ask us to consider our true situation and to pray over it. They ask us to be honest about ourselves.
Kathleen Norris from Cloister Walk, p. 104)

This week we will look at some of the Psalms that point to the redemptive work of God in Christ. I love this quote from Kathleen Norris. it points to the transforming power of the Psalms. Read Psalm 77 today and notice the contrast of the first 10 verses and the last 10.

v. 3-4
I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
 I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
  I was too troubled to speak.

v. 11-12
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; 
 yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
 and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

The result is remembering the Exodus and God carrying His people though His footprints were not seen. (v. 19) That’s being transformed in the midst of pain and doubt!

Psalm 119 ~ Bonhoeffer’s Unfinished Book

DietrichBonhoefferWorksVol15I have three of the 17 volumes of Bonhoeffer’s Complete annotated works translated from the German over a 20 year span. They include background notes from scholars and often fascinating detail from the margin of his Bibles, letters previously unpublished, etc. One gem in Vol. 15 is the notes he began on each verse of Psalm 119 – an acrostic poem of 22 stanzas of 8 verses each.  Every verse has different and “new variations on one theme, the love of God’s word.”

We have learned that “in the winter of 1939-40, Bonhoeffer intensified his long-practiced meditation on the Psalms and considered an interpretation on Ps. 119 ‘the climax of his theological life.'” His closest friend, Bethge noted that this Psalm was ‘the biblical passage quoted most frequently by Bonhoeffer.’ In his American diary, Bonhoeffer called it his favorite Psalm. He saw this project as central to biblical ethics.

We have notes on only 21 verses of Bonhoeffer’s Psalm 119 meditations. One reflection has been a constant reminder to me about “delighting” in God’s Word.

God gave us the Scriptures to be read and pondered anew every day…
Why do I forget God’s word? Because I cannot yet say as the Psalm says:
“I delight in your statutes.”

I do not forget the things in which I delight!
(Works, Vol. 15, pp. 517-18)

10 times in this great Psalm of the Word – the word DELIGHT is used to describe the Psalmist’s response to the revealed Teaching of God. Two more:

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. (v.14)
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (v.92)

A suggested practice:
As a way of increasing your delight in the Word, read and meditate on this Psalm. We are reading 2 stanzas per week in worship currently. You may want to take a month and read one 8 verse stanza each week day.

“O how I love your law; it is my meditation all the day!” (Psalm 119:97)

How to Pray with the Psalms

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.28.15 PMOur series on prayer comes to the essential place of the PSALMS in prayer. The sermon from August 3rd gives reasons and practical ways to “pray with the Psalms,” especially when we are in pain or when God seems far away!  The diagram here is from that teaching.

You can also download a short anthology of some wonderful quotes about the Psalms at the Psalm Page of this blog.

On vacation this week, I came across a used book store. (“I brake for bookstores.”) I stumbled upon these two additional reasons for praying the Psalms from Thomas Merton.

That is why I am more and more thankful… for the Psalms. Their praise of God is perfect, and God gives it to me to utter as more my own than any language I could think up for myself.    (from ‘A Year with Thomas Merton’)

This is the secret of the psalms. Our identity is hidden in them. In them we find ourselves and God. In these fragments he has revealed not only Himself to us but ourselves to Him.  (from ‘The Journals of Thomas Merton 2’)

So if this practice  is new to you, let me encourage you to listen to the teaching and then begin – just begin reading the Psalms – each day – and let them become your own prayers – Jesus’ prayers with you – teaching you how to pray!

Flourish! (aka Shalom!)


If you missed some or all of our series called Flourish!the teaching here from June 22 may be very helpful. It summarizes a vision for flourishing, both as a church and as an individual. One new insight is that the word flouish is very much parallel to the expansive biblical word, Shalom. It means “wholeness, completeness, wellness, the way it ought to be.”

This connection of flourish and shalom can be seen in Psalm 72:7 where the Hebrew poetry places the two words in parallel.

In his days may the righteous flourish,
                                and peace  (Shalom) abound,
till the moon be no more!

flourish_printGod created the world for shalom. Sin and evil entered as the “vandalism of Shalom.” God, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself. God restoring shalom is for everyone to hear!

Could it be that  flourishing is a concept that may be more easily grasped than shalom by people in today’s world? I think so. The Good News is that God wants us all to know what it means to be fully human and fully alive.

Listen to the sermon and ask God for a vision to flourish – and then to help others flourish – aka – experience the Shalom of Christ!


Day 34, Praying with Jesus at the Cross (part 5)

eloi-eloiWe know that Jesus prayed the first verse of Psalm 22 from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…” But as we’ve been seeing this week, I believe the whole Psalm was pulsing through his mind! Look at how Psalm 22 ENDS!

I will tell of your name to my brothers
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted, 
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.    (Psalm 22:22-28, ESV)

Through blood, sweat, and tears Jesus sees the finish line. Christ is the King who rules over all – all the ends of the earth; all the families of the nations. He is praying with bold confidence, knowing full well, that through his redemptive death and victorious resurrection, God’s Covenant with Abraham is being fulfilled – and “ALL the nations of the earth will be blessed…!” (Gen. 12:1-3 and restatements throughout Scripture)

Prayer: Lord, you see the end from the beginning. Help me to pray the whole Psalm!