ISSL Reflections October 31 2021 Psalms 149:1-5, 150 Post 1

I.
This week we turn to the last two Psalms in the Book of Psalms, as we also end our time with the book of Psalms for now.

Spend some time with these Psalms and notice what holds your attention.

II.
Psalm 149:1-5 (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.

Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.

Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.

Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.

Psalm 150 (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!

Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

III.
Are you familiar with a “word cloud”? A word cloud is a visual representation of words that give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in a selected text.

In other words, the more often words occur in the selected text, the larger the word appears.

A possible word cloud representation of this week’s Scripture would be –

Does that paint an accurate picture of how you hear these Psalms?

Is your attention drawn to the word(s) most repeated, or is it drawn to something else? Maybe something you hear in the spirit of the Psalmist that leads him to offer this song to God and to us?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 24 2021 Psalm 84 Post 3

VII.
As we begin our time with this Psalm today, rest in these words from the Psalmist –

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

As you turn to the Psalm for another meditative reading, let these words be your lens for hearing the Psalm –

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

VIII.
Psalm 84 (NRSV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

IX.
In reading this Psalm how does the Psalmist lead you beyond the Temple as the place of praise?

Is this Psalm a song of praise for the Temple or a song of praise that sees beyond the Temple and takes us beyond the Temple?

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Where does the heart lead? What path does the heart make for us?

X.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.


What might the sparrow and swallow show us about finding a home, a nest, a safe place to be in God’s presence?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 24 2021 Psalm 84 Post 2

IV.
This Psalm sure seems to speak a lot about the “place” it references – the physical location of singing, praying, and praising.

Does it seem that way to you?

As you spend time with the Psalm today, pay attention to the “place” (and places) it names.

V.
Psalm 84 (NRSV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

IV.
Door, courts, what else names a place,

What do you think those singing the Psalm with the Psalmist so many centuries ago have in their minds as they sang. What would they see either around them, or in their mind’s eye.
Where would they be, or want to be?

I guess you could remind me that all those questions could be answered differently depending on the Psalm being sung in the era of a wilderness tabernacle, or Solomon’s Temple, of post-temple exile, of synagogue centered life in exile or in post-exile Israel, or of Herod’s Temple, or of post Second Temple or in the diaspora.

And you would be right.

As the Psalm is sung are their thoughts about the place in which they sing and praise or could their song also have grief for a place they no longer inhabit?

What of you and me? Do you know a place of praise and worship you no longer can reach? A place beyond your reach?

How do you still worship and praise if “that” place is lost?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Desu ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 24 2021 Psalm 84 Post 1

I.
This week our focus is on Psalm 84.

The Psalmist opens with –

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!

As you spend time with this Psalm and read it several times, notice what is claimed to be The Lord’s “dwelling place.”

II.

Psalm 84 (NRSV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,

    O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints

    for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

    and the swallow a nest for herself,

    where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O Lord of hosts,

    my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

    ever singing your praise.Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you,

    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca

    they make it a place of springs;

    the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

    the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;

    give ear, O God of Jacob!  Selah

Behold our shield, O God;

    look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better

    than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

    than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

    he bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does the Lord withhold

    from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts,

    happy is everyone who trusts in you.

III.
Where does the Psalmist report The Lord dwells?

Where are the “courts of the Lord”?

The “alters” are mentioned as a safe place for sparrows and swallows to nest and “lay [their] young.”

The “courts” of God are mentioned and likewise the “[door] in the house of God.

Why is the Psalmist content to be a “doorkeeper in the house of … God”? Maybe he should expect a “better” job for himself in God’s courts?

When you read these expressions of “where” God dwells, what comes to mind for you? What do you see?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 17 2021 Psalm 107:1-9, 39-43 Post 3


O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… (Psalm 107:1-2a)

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 107:43)

VIII.
The Psalmist asks us to participate both in thanksgiving and in considering how we encounter The Lord’s “steadfast love.”

As you read Psalm 107 once again, pause as the Psalmist offers examples of The Lord’s “steadfast love.” Do the examples give you cause to consider your own experience of God’s love?

IX.

Psalm 107:1-9 (NRSV)

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble

and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;

hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;

he led them by a straight way,
until they reached an inhabited town.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.

For he satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:39-43 (NRSV)

When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of distress,
and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad;
and all wickedness stops its mouth.

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

X.
What does the Psalmist bring to mind for you, when he speaks of –

redeemed from trouble
gathered in from the lands
wandered in desert wastes, finding no way
soul fainted within
satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things
diminished and brought low
raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks
upright see it and are glad

Does the Psalmist lead you to a time of thanksgiving?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 17 2021 Psalm 107:1-9, 39-43 Post 2

IV.
As we return to Psalm 107 today let the words that close the Psalm be your path into hearing this Psalm –

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
and consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 107:43)

Read the Psalm once again and take time to consider the times and places the Psalmist thinks The Lord’s “steadfast love” was experienced.

V.
What “things” does the Psalmist ask his hearers to notice?

Why do you think “these things” connect to The Lord’s “steadfast love” in the Psalmist’s thoughts?

VI.
“Steadfast love” has in other places been translated as “kindness,” “faithfulness,” “lovingkindness,” and “mercy.”

It is the Hebrew word, hesed, and is often used when God’s covenant with his people is mentioned. I like to translate/paraphrase it as “covenant love.”

It is the word translated as “mercy” in Micah 6:8,

“… what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

VII.
As the Psalmist asks you what are “these things” that lead you to sense The Lord’s “steadfast love,” how do you reply?

When and where and how do you find you are a participant in The Lord’s covenant love?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 17 2021 Psalm 107:1-9, 39-43 Post 1

I.

This week we will focus on some of Psalm 107.

First, take a few moments and hold these words from the Psalm in your soul – 

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so… (Psalm 107:1-2a)

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,
    and consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 107:43)

Stay with those words for a time and don’t rush off too quickly.

II.

Now with those thoughts grounding you, consider the rest of this week’s focus passage – 

Psalm 107:1-9 (NRSV) 

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

    those he redeemed from trouble

and gathered in from the lands,

    from the east and from the west,

    from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,

    finding no way to an inhabited town;

hungry and thirsty,

    their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

    and he delivered them from their distress;

he led them by a straight way,

    until they reached an inhabited town.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

    for his wonderful works to humankind.

For he satisfies the thirsty,

    and the hungry he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:39-43 (NRSV)

When they are diminished and brought low

    through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes

    and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of distress,

    and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad;

    and all wickedness stops its mouth.

Let those who are wise give heed to these things,

    and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

III.

The Psalmist speaks of The Lord’s “steadfast love.”

Not only does he ask his hearers to “give thanks” for the “steadfast love” of The Lord, he offers some thoughts on places and times the people had opportunity to know that “steadfast love” firsthand.

Read the Psalm once again and take time to consider the times and places the Psalmist thinks The Lord’s “steadfast love” was experienced.

charles

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 10 2021 Psalm 9:1-12 Post 3

VIII.
The Psalmist begins – “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart …”

Whole-hearted thankfulness, whole-hearted praise – What does that look like? What does that sound like? What does that feel like?

Today spend time with this Psalm noticing how the Psalmist brings his “whole heart” to The Lord.

IX.
Psalm 9:1-12 (NRSV)

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before you.

For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;
their cities you have rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever,
he has established his throne for judgment.

He judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with equity.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.
Declare his deeds among the peoples.

For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

X.
What “clues” did the Psalmist give us on what it might sound like to bring our whole heart to The Lord?

If we have been taught that praise and prayer must sound a certain way, be made up of certain words and phrases, what can prayer and praise be if those “prescribed” words and phrases do not arise from our whole heart?

Take time today to open your whole heart to yourself and to God and offer that in some way to God, remembering the Psalmist also told us, “… for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 10 2021 Psalm 9:1-12 Post 2

IV.
Let’s start today by going back to the Psalm for another “slow” reading. Let’s not rush over it, thinking we know what it says, but rather take our time to let the words of the Psalmist rest in our minds and spirit.

V.
Psalm 9:1-12 (NRSV)

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before you.

For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;
their cities you have rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever,
he has established his throne for judgment.

He judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with equity.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.
Declare his deeds among the peoples.

For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

VI.
I closed our time together the other day by calling our attention to what the Psalmist says regarding the “enemies” and the “wicked.

Today let me point to C. S. Lewis’ Reflections the Psalms and some of what he writes about “cursing” in the Pslams,

“… we must not try either to explain them away or to yield for one moment to the idea that, because it comes in the Bible, all this vindictive hatred must somehow be good and pious. We must face both facts squarely. The hatred is there … and also we should be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it, or (worse still) used it to justify similar passions in ourselves.”
(p 22)

“I found that these maledictions were in one way extremely interesting. For here one saw a feeling we all know only too well. Resentment, expressing itself with perfect freedom, without disguise, without self-consciousness, without shame – as few but children would express it today.” (pp 22-23)

VII.
How do you respond today to Lewis’ remarks?

Do they offend you?

Do they open a door to the spirit and heart of the Psalmist?

Do they in any way lead you to more value or less value what the Psalms presents to us?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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ISSL Reflections October 10 2021 Psalm 9:1-12 Post 1

I.
Last week we heard that we are to, “Make a joyful noise …”

This week the Psalmist begins his words to us with,

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

As you spend time with this Psalm, what do you notice gives the Psalmist cause to “… give thanks … tell of all [the Lord’s] wonderful deeps … be glad and exult … sing praise to [the] Most high.”

II.
Psalm 9:1-12 (NRSV)

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turned back,
they stumbled and perished before you.

For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins;
their cities you have rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever,
he has established his throne for judgment.

He judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with equity.

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.
Declare his deeds among the peoples.

For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

III.
The Psalmist speaks not only of praising the “Most High” but also of his “enemies” and “the wicked.”

What does he have to say about those people?

How does that strike you? Do you find yourself in agreement with the Psalmist or do you find his attitude problematic?

Do you think such words are proper for a Psalm or a prayer?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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