Continuing with a contemplation of Psalm 119, here is a word cloud of it:
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
On my first read through the Bible, when I came to Psalm 119 I winced at a quick scan of its length. Then I started reading it and was so caught by the author's passion and reverence that I was finished before I gave another thought to its length. It remains to this day one of my favorite Psalms. (My first read-through was before I learned about some of the artistry
that didn't survive translation: it's an acrostic poem in the original
Hebrew. I remain impressed that the urgency and pace and devotion did survive the translation.)
Like the Sermon on the Mount, this Psalm begins with a focus on God as the God who blesses: The opening line "Blessed are the undefiled" is much like "Blessed are the pure in heart" from the Sermon on the Mount. And the Psalmist doubles down on beginning with blessings, as the second verse underlines the theme again: "Blessed are they who keep his testimonies." (It's not only this Psalm and the Sermon on the Mount that begin with blessings. God's first words to people, as recorded in Genesis 1:28, are likewise a blessing, as it says "God blessed them and said to them", etc.)
There's is more depth in this Psalm that I hope to explore. While the Psalmist may have been an engaging enough author to write such a lengthy work without trying peoples' patience, for my own part I think I'll pause here.
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Sunday, June 05, 2022
"Laying aside all malice, and treachery/guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and slander, as newborns desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow from it: if you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (1 Peter 2:1-3)
Sometimes I have a tendency to think of Peter as the Apostle who was a little too eager to talk, and ended up with his foot in his mouth. I see his journey -- and his public mistakes -- and tend to forget that he spent three years learning from Christ himself. Who could come away from that unchanged?
Somewhere there is a line between staying humble about our human leaders who all have human faults, and refusing them respect. Even the high priest had to offer sacrifices for his own sins; who among us is without faults? And so it is with some late-remembered humility of my own that I think twice about the layers of depth of what Peter wrote.
The evils that he mentions are evils that come into the world mostly through words: malice, treachery/guile, hypocrisy, envy, slander. He contrasts the with the Word, and quickly draws a contrast that God's word is logical, healthy, pure, growth-promoting, and gracious. He leaves the listener to work out that the opposite is true of our sinful words: unreasonable, unhealthy, impure, corrupting, and ungracious. And we know the difference by the taste they leave in our mouths. He doesn't focus so much on whether we are consuming words or speaking words or pondering words; he focuses on whether they are words of purity and God's grace. If there is a source of pollution which we can address by our smallest actions, here it is: the words we hear, the words we amplify, the words we use to grow our souls in the direction they grow.
Thank God for the words of Peter.