Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Psalm 138 ~ Thanks for God's Goodness




When folks are asked, "What's your favorite psalm?" Psalm 138 comes in third place after Psalms 23 and 121. It's a prayer of mindfulness and gratitude for God's goodness. We might even learn it by heart. Click on the woodland path above to hear it read.

Verse 1: Notice the psalm says, I will give thanks..." Should we make anything of the world will? Maybe the psalmist is making a committment: "O God, all the way into the future, as long as I will live, you will have my heart." 

"Before the gods, I will sing your praises." The psalmist is thinking of little temple gods of carved stone and metal. But Americans have their own other gods: a political party, some politician's base, the military industrial complex, my to-die-for amendment, my "rights," the contents of the thingdom come stores...

Verse 2: "I will bow down at your temple." Bow down. This isn't a little nod of the head but a deep bow from the waist - what monks call a profound bow. A look-at-your-shoes bow. A get-down-on the-ground-head-to-the-floor bow. Why bow like this? Because God is faithful in love for us, who can be such spoilers. That's a very big love!

Verse 3: "Your word is above all things." God is always speaking God's Word.  I should be listening with the ears of my heart. You can't talk when you're bent over. You don't have the air for it. My father taught me to love words: God's Word is above all our yammering - our noisy, boisterous complaining. 

Verse 4: We may not always like what we hear - but God answers, and God gives strength. Many believing people can attest to that. The strength to hang in there while raising a family. The strength required to take care of the sick, the damaged, the elderly, the failing or dying. The strength not to quit on beating back an addiction. You name it.

Verses 5-6: All the earthly kings will praise God because they will learn the ways of God and see God's greatness. Instead of kings, we might substitute: presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, corporate heads, managers, supervisors...

Verse 7: A lovely contrast here - while God is high, God cares for the lowly. We can imagine God bent over the world's thrown away people, those hidden away in filth, despair and sadness. There are millions and millions of them. God sees the haughty from a distance - the ones who make policies, plans, deals and budgets that ignore the littlest and the voiceless.The haughty create the distance, not God.

Verse 8: The verse refers to God's right hand twice. It is a poetic image of God's omnipotence. So why doesn't God use his omni-power as I think he should? I'll have to ask God about that if heaven's beautiful gate is opened to me. Meanwhile, I let God be God. But for me, God's right hand means, God has me pulled in real close, the way parents do with their children when there's sadness, worry or danger. And the greatest danger for us? Anything that would cause us to become indifferent or hateful.

Verse 9: God doesn't abandon. Humans are fickle, bellicose, resentful, fearful, destructive, greedy consumers. But the psalmist testifies that God doesn't give up on us -  again - like those parents who don't give up on their children who can make some very wrong, even perilous choices. 

God created each of us as an original idea. Each person is created with a God-inspired purpose. A radio preacher-man said this week, "The two most important moments in our lives are: the moment when I was born and then, the moment when I discover why I was born."

9 comments:

  1. God gives us so many things, yet often we fail to thank Him properly. He loves us anyway and only asks that we love each other. No, God never gives up on us. we give up on ourselves and blame God. I wonder how God has such infinite love for us all.

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  2. I like this word "wonder" - which can mean, "Let me think this out and get the answer" or "I will stand in awe of what I see and know." I prefer the second take. Like: "Star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright." Wonder!

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  3. I'm so happy to see you continuing with your Psalm Sundays. It's good to hear your voice which has an instant calming effect on me. I am thankful to you for sharing the gifts that God gave you.

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    1. No one likes the way they sound on recordings, so I'm glad for the "calming effect." Thank you.

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  4. God broke the mold when he made you Father. I mean that in the best of ways. Carry on with your good work and may God continue to bless your ministry.

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    1. When I was in seminary (now a long time ago) computers were in their infancy (I think some big businesses were starting to use them) but when a teacher-colleague showed me her compupter in the 80's and showed me how to "type" a story I remember thinking, "But what is this thing?" And here we are. I could never have imagined. And how grateful I am that God has opened up the way for this techno-ministry - reaching beyond the beyond. Blessed Sunday to you and your family.

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  5. For the third time in a row, you have opened my ears and my heart to what a Psalm can really tell us. They do actually mean something deeper than what I can possibly get out of them myself. Do your reflections come to you when you read a Bible passage, or is there somewhere that one can do d these explanations.

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  6. This is kind of funny now, but in seminary I failed the course in Psalms TWICE. The priest-teacher came in and read the pslams in Hebrew and then talked about the poem-prayers only from a scholarly-historical perspective. Not a spiritual moment the whole semester. And this for young men who would be hearing the psalms everyday for the rest of their lives. The reflections here are mine. God is good. The psalms are beautiful and full of spiritual content.

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