Tag: Psalm series (page 1 of 14)

Singing a New Song

Psalm 98“Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things” – Psalm 98:1

Is it even possible to sing a new song to God?

Is there anything actually new? What about that other biblical phrase, the one that says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl 1:9)

Is it really new when I sit in church and sing a popular worship song that has been sung by thousands of people across the country for the last several years? Or what about a hymn that has been sung even longer, by even more people?

What does God expect of me? Am I to write my own songs? How else could I sing something “new”?

We sing to a new song to the Lord every time we praise Him. Each and every time. Even if we use the exact same words that have been used by others for years.

Our praise is new because the moment is new.

If we believe God numbers the hairs on our heads, don’t we also believe that He delights in our moments?

When we sing the same words to the same melody at a different time in our life, it becomes a new song.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy; – Psalm 98:7-8

Each moment in this world, the creation is changing. New life comes. Old life dies away. Flowers bloom. Currents shift. The sun rises. The sun sets.

God is constantly breathing life into it all. He delights every time we notice.


This was my reflection on Psalm 98. Link up with your own below. Or stop back next week with thoughts on Psalm 99.

Engaging with Scripture in the midst of life

Psalm 68Some days, the Bible is thick with inspiration.

 

We sit down with the Scriptures, and something magic happens. Maybe it’s because we are fully present in a way not always common. Maybe it is just chance. But whatever the case may be, we are overcome by what we read. It fills us and fuels us and makes us feel the Bible must really be something magical.

 

Other days, the Bible is dry.

 

We try, try, try to find something in it that connects with our hearts, but we just can’t. The words feel like they are from another world. For another time. Not for us, not for our lives. They are dry. Boring. Irrelevant.

 

And still other days, there just isn’t time.

 

We can squeeze in reading its words, but not much more than that. We sit down to write a blog post about a Psalm in between going to a conference and going to a retreat and being in the middle of so much life, and there just isn’t much to say. It’s not that there’s anything wrong about that particular Psalm, it’s just that we can’t pull off a reflection.

 

Today is one of those days.

 

That’s life.

 

And that’s okay.

 

We are human. We need to have realistic expectations of ourselves, of God, and of the Bible. Ups and downs are normal. Differing levels of engagement are normal.

 

We don’t have to beat ourselves up when lightning doesn’t strike. We can celebrate that we showed up. And we can just count it as an ordinary day with God. Which makes it not very ordinary at all.

 

So today, I look forward to hearing your reflections on Psalm 68. And I’ll just leave you with the verse that struck me the most.

 

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.

- Psalm 68:19

Under God’s Wings

psalm 61-4God is like a mother bird.

 

It’s not often what we picture when we picture God, but it is a reference made several times throughout Scripture.

 

We can seek shelter in Him. Not just a roof. Not just walls. Sanctuary. Refuge.

 

He does not simply pragmatically provide us with protection. (In fact, we know He often doesn’t provide protection when we hope He will, right?)

 

God shields us with the comfort of a mother’s embrace.

 

David knows this is available to Him. And so, in Psalm 61, when his heart is weary, that shelter is what he seeks from God.

 

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. – Psalm 61:1-4

 

I long for that, too. I want to be embraced under the wings of God. I can’t imagine a more lovely place to call home.

 

————

 

This Psalm series is a discipline, y’all. (I’m not southern, that just seemed like the correct word to use at this moment.)

 

Tonight, I didn’t want to write the post. And honestly, I don’t have much in me, hence the shortness of what I have above.

 

I have had several busy days in a row. Good days. Days in which I have chosen to be fully present. Enjoying moments more and worrying about my blog less.

 

This post snuck up on me.

 

And, to be honest, that’s not unusual because I so often don’t want to be here. The series has regularly been annoying. It sometimes makes me want to slug David in the face.

 

Yet I cannot describe in words how valuable it has been for me to show up week after week with Psalm after Psalm.

 

This discipline of showing up each week to write and wrestle with a text, of being forced to not skip over challenging verses, of not missing reading because it’s a challenging time, it takes my biblical engagement to a new and deeper level.

 

I believe in the power of these words of Scripture to transform each of us. And sometimes, maybe often, that happens in unexpected ways.

 

————

 

I take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

 

Maybe I find my way to Your wings through Your Word. Finding that in these ancient texts, your arm is stretched out wide, ready to welcome me.

 

In You I find shelter. Comfort. Love. Meaning.

 

You are my Mother Bird. Hold me tight. Strengthen my fainting heart and sing me into Your peace.

 


Add the link to your post about Psalm 61 below. Make sure to read someone else’s post, too! Or join next week with a post on Psalm 62.

Psalm 55: aka, Praying While Wishing Others Were Buried Alive

Steve Wiens is a gift to the blogging world. He is a pastor whose voice is a needed reminder of the power of vulnerability and authenticity. I’m lucky enough to live in the same city as him, and can tell you his real life presence is just as great as his online presence. I’m thrilled to have his words here as a guest post today.


 

Photo Credit: getorganizedwizard.com

Photo Credit: getorganizedwizard.com

If Psalm 55 were a blog post, the comments would be merciless. The writer might be reported to the police. But this wasn’t a blog post; it was a desperate prayer from a king who was at the end of his rope.

 

It begins with honesty: “Hear me and answer me. My thoughts upset me. I’m very troubled.”

 

Prayer is a time to bring to God what actually is, where you reveal the unvarnished reality of your life. And sometimes, the reality is: I’m not doing well. My thoughts upset me. I’m very troubled.

 

In this Psalm, it’s as if David sensed that God leaned in, paying close attention. This gives David freedom to be even more honest. It turns out his opening lines were a bit too edited.

 

In verses 4-5, David gets very real and very dark:

 

“I feel great pain deep down inside of me. The terrors of death are crushing me. Fear and trembling have taken hold of me. Panic has overpowered me.”

 

If this were your friend, you’d be alarmed. You’d start offering ridiculous and unhelpful things just to stop the hemorrhaging. You’d start looking for the little button underneath the desk that calls in the experts.

 

In verses 6-7, David seems to be suicidal, or close to it.

 

“I wish I had wings like a dove! Then I would fly away and be at rest.”

 

We finally understand why he’s so low when we get to verses 8-12: Random sinners are ruining his city, destroying the peace and he doesn’t seem to be able to stop it. And we get to the hardest truth in verses 13-15:

 

“But it’s you, it’s someone like myself. It’s my companion, my close friend. We used to enjoy good friendship as we walked with the crowds at the house of God. Let death take my enemies by surprise. Let them be buried alive, because their hearts and homes are full of evil.”

 

David is pouring out his desire for personal vindication because a close friend has betrayed him, and the pain is more than he can bear. It’s embarrassingly violent. Buried alive? How can someone pray that way?

 

And then in verses 16-18, it’s as if the fog clears. For a moment, David realizes that even if God answered that prayer – to let his enemies be buried alive – he needed something bigger.

 

“But I call out to God. And the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I groan and cry out. And he hears my voice. Even though many enemies are fighting against me, he brings me safely back from the battle.”

 

But then it turns dark again, beginning in verse 19 and through the end of Psalm 55. David goes from crying out to God, trusting God to do what is right, to once again praying for God to bring sinners down to the grave. No one can accuse David of holding back.

 

Then he ends with these five words:

 

“But I trust in you.”

 

How are we supposed to pray when we’re at the end of our rope? Here’s what I see in David’s prayer:

 

He’s not afraid to pour it all out, as ugly and vindictive as he actually feels. He doesn’t seem to be worried that God will edit him or tell him that praying for someone to be buried alive is perhaps a little over the top. This is bringing to God what actually is.

 

There are no pious clichés. It’s as if David doesn’t have time or energy for anything other than cold, stark reality. God can handle reality and we don’t have to hide behind the pretense that we believe something that we don’t.

 

He’s not demanding answers for why bad things happen. We can ask God anything, including the wonderful question why. But there comes a point in praying where we understand that no answer will suffice. David needs to know God is good, not why this tragedy happened. When we’re in this level of despair, answers don’t help, and God knows that.

 

Moses was good at praying desperate prayers as well. In Numbers 11:15, after complaining to God about how whiny the Israelites were, he prays this way:

 

“Is this how you are going to treat me? If you are pleased with me, just put me to death right now. Don’t let me live if I have to see myself destroyed anyway.” 

 

I love that prayer: Kill me now, God. As a leader and a parent, I’ve prayed that prayer a thousand times.

 

Psalm 55 teaches us that we need to bring our ugly, unvarnished, unedited, desperate thoughts to the one place that is safe: God’s presence.

 

And the more we do that, the more it really will be true when we say this to God: “But I trust in you.”

 


stevewiensheadshotAbout Today’s Guest Blogger: Steve Wiens

I’m learning to embrace my actual life that actually exists in the actual universe. I’m a pastor and I love my congregation. It’s in the suburbs, where I live. I have three boys – Isaac, Ben, and Lige – little Jedi masters to whom I submit for learning the art of living as is. I’m married to a writer & poet; someone who knows how to make beautiful things and how to make things more beautiful. My blog is all about my journey in living as is instead of as if. And of course, it’s an invitation for you to join me on the adventure.


 

Add the link to your post about Psalm 55 below. Make sure to read someone else’s post, too! Or join next week with a post on Psalm 56.


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