Daily Psalms – Psalm 76

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 76-80

Thank you to those who have reached out over the last week. It was pretty crazy with travel and family commitments. But now we return to our (mostly) daily posts from Psalms. Today we focus on Psalm 76.

Psalm 76 is a song of peace and salvation, though it may not look like it upon initial reading. It’s easy to read about Zion here and think this song is only about Jerusalem, the promised land, or some battle fought there. But we forget that Zion serves as a symbol for God’s sovereignty in all times and all places. That includes the world we live in today, as well as the new heavens and new earth to come (Rev. 21:1-4).

With this view of the Psalm, we are introduced to a God who is sovereign and is on a mission!

There he shatters the bow’s flaming arrows,
the shield, the sword, and the weapons of war.

Psalm 76:3 CSB

Where God is sovereign (which is everywhere) he is in the business of peace. This includes caring after the widow, orphan, and foreigner (Deut. 10:18), but also includes ending, and eliminating war (Isa. 2:4). It is God who shelters us and shatters the enemies efforts.

In verse 6 the psalmist reminds us of God’s efforts in the past, specifically the Exodus when Israel couldn’t fight, but God fought for them hurling horse and rider in the sea (Ex. 15:1). We are reminded through verses 7-10 of God’s might and justice that cannot be stopped (“Who can stand before you?”). And finally the summarizing point of the psalm:

Make and keep your vows
to the LORD your God;
let all who are around him bring tribute
to the awe-inspiring one.
He humbles the spirit of leaders;
he is feared by the kings of the earth.

Psalm 76:11-12 CSB

We must respond to the fact that God is sovereign in all the world! This isn’t some nugget of knowledge to stash away in our brains for future use. This is a call to live our lives in submission to him. God’s sovereignty should affect our interactions with others, our approach to the world, our pursuit of peace, the way we lead, the way we govern, the way we worship…the list is endless. God’s sovereignty should touch every aspect of our lives. And if it doesn’t, then we are living in rebellion against God. I’d like to share a quote from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary on this psalm:

“…Psalm 76 is finally an invitation to live under God’s sovereignty (v. 11), to adopt God’s values and God’s ways (vv. 8-9). But to stand for justice and peace in a world filled with war and injustice requires a particular understanding of sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is exercised not as sheer force but as the power of love. The world does not understand this kind of power, but it is power nonetheless (see 1 Cor 1:25). The invitation in v. 11 is ultimately an invitation to respond to God’s love.”

New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary – Vol. III, pg. 514

We have been invited to stand with God, or stand against him. To live under his reign, or in opposition to it. The choice is ours. To quote the old hymn, “What will your answer be?”

Daily Psalms – Psalm 77

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 76-80

Today we spend our time reflecting on Psalm 77; a psalm that recounts what God has done for his people, and asks him to move once again on their behalf.

We often believe that faith is blind. It is not.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

It is true that faith is in something we cannot see, but that doesn’t mean there is no proof. We may not know where we’re going, but we know how we made it to the present. That’s a bit like what the psalmist is doing here.

Israel knows that God has done great things in the past, and now in their time of need they are pleading with him, and trusting him to move yet again. This is an example of faith in God for the future in light of the past. Faith is not blind.

Most of the stories in the Bible involve God showing his power in order to help his people have faith. Take the life of Jesus for instance. No miracle of Jesus is ever about the miracle, but rather to provide evidence that their faith was warranted. They always point to Jesus’ authority to do whatever he was doing. (See Matthew 9:6)

This psalm begins by pleading with God for help, interspersed with remembering how God interceded in the past (v. 3-6). The end of the psalm reflects on specific ways God moved in the past (v. 16-20). And right in the middle is faith in action: looking toward the future, but evidenced in the past.

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
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.”

Psalm 77:10-12 NIV

As we wait for God to move powerfully in our lives (as he may very well be doing already), let us keep our faith rooted in his mighty acts of the past. Let us plead for God to do great things now and in the future through his people, and expect nothing short of the great things he has already accomplished through them.

May God be praised now and forever more! Amen.

Daily Psalms – Psalm 29

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 26-30

Today we spend a little time meditating on Psalm 29 which many scholars believe to be the oldest psalm we have. This belief comes from finding very similar songs written to Baal by the Canaanites, and it appears that the Canaanite text has been reclaimed and rightly reappropriated to honor Yahweh.

Baal was known as the god over storms and fertility. If anything grew it was because Baal provided the fertility. If rain came it was because Baal made it so, and his voice was heard in the thunder of the storm. There was a belief amongst the Canaanites that they could manipulate Baal to do what they wanted by worshipping at the right time and in certain ways. They believed they could do certain things to obligate Baal to give them what they asked for. (Sadly some who follow Christ believe this as well.)

Psalm 29, however, takes everything that the Canaanites believed and flips it on its head. It isn’t Baal who does anything! It is Yahweh, and Yahweh alone who controls everything in the universe, and we are reminded of his name 18 times in this psalm alone!

Everything that comes from powerful storms: floods, thunder, tremors, lightning, destruction in nature – all of it subject to Yahweh. Blessings, strength, peace? All from Yahweh! Baal has no place in the discussion because it is Yahweh who does all of these things.

Let’s take a moment and focus on how our world views these things. Where do storms come from? We could look at scientific answers, but the general person on the street would attribute it to “Mother Nature.” How do we get rain? Hope the patterns found in “Mother Nature” will bring it about.

Our society, in large part, has done what the Canaanites did in attributing the power evident in the universe to created things. Humans can control a lot of things (or at least we pretend we can.) We can control our schedules, what crops we grow, where we want to build roads, where we want to travel, etc. We have amazing control over our world, but we cannot control the weather. Truth be told we can’t even accurately predict it most of the time.

Psalm 29 reminds us that we are not in control. No matter how hard we try, to matter what spells or chants we recite, no matter how many prayers we pray; we are not in control. Yahweh alone is in control. The only one who can control the weather is the only one in control of everything else.

And what should the response of creation be?

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, 
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; 
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 

Psalm 29:1-2 NIV

May Yahweh give you strength and bless you with peace.