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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 9
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.

Be gracious to me, O Lord.
     See what I suffer from those who hate me;
     you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,
so that I may recount all your praises,
     and, in the gates of daughter Zion,
     rejoice in your deliverance.

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
     in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment;
     the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah

The wicked shall depart to Sheol,
     all the nations that forget God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
     nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
     let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
     let the nations know that they are only human. Selah (NRSV)

I fear that centuries from now people will study and seek inspiration from the lyrics and poems of our culture. This might lead them to Rolling Stone magazine’s claim of the sixty-fourth most popular song of all time. My worry is that scholars and students will ponder and recite its timeless lyrics—“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”—without the benefit of Paul McCartney’s voice in their heads. Really?

What would the psalmist have to say to me as I try to interpret Psalm 9? How would the then-prescribed tune of Muth Labben have enhanced or constricted the words? Psalm 9 and 10 form an acrostic poem, as the first letters of each phrase comprise the Hebrew alphabet. Would this have affected the content of God’s worldwide judgment and rule over the nations? Once again, my obsession with correct interpretation has clouded the simple statement of God’s love and protection. I pray for the peace and serenity to simply bask in the pleasure of verses 9 and 10:

        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 forsake those who seek you.

Because “with a love like that, you know you should be glad.”

Dear Lord, I give thanks for the psalmist’s hands that you have guided. Help me to drink in your Word without overanalysis or judgment. Let your grace and love guide my humble journey to seek you. Amen.

Written by Katy Sinclair, Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth

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