Nowhere in scripture is the unity and order of God’s creation more eloquently displayed than in Psalm 19. Nature and humanity exist in perfect harmony. For humanity’s part, the law of the Lord provides a trustworthy order of life that is righteous, sure, clear, pure, true. Such a life tastes good, sweeter than honey.
As if to mirror that perfection of human order, nature itself proclaims the glory of God in the wonders of the heavens. The daily course of the sun across the sky signals God’s faithfulness. Indeed, these are joyous rounds, the sun acting like a newlywed emerging from the wedding tent, an athlete exhilarated with the race.
Then the jarring language of warning, error, fault, and insolence strikes a sour note. Where does that come from? What is evil doing in this perfect universe?
I am thrown again into the continual human struggle for a life of integrity and justice. LORD, . . . Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? wonders the psalmist (10:1) “The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness . . . and strips the forest bare” (29:8- 9). So I call out for God’s help in a world quaking with chaos.
I cannot always expect to look at the heavens with Psalm 19 eyes. Shaken by the death of a parent, upset by the divorce of good friends, distressed by the faces of hunger and poverty, I cannot glibly mouth such words of orderliness and glory. My tongue is tied, and the Spirit must give me the words to speak. And what does the Spirit whisper to me to say? “O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
In “the meditation of my heart,” how am I learning to trust God, Creator of beauty, Redeemer of a troubled world?
The Decalogue in Exodus 20 need not be considered a litmus test of righteousness or religious purity but rather a declaration that lies near the heart of the covenant relationship between Yahweh and Israel. The Torah is the way the people say yes to God’s saving initiatives. Psalm 19:1-6 links the gift of the Torah to other acts of divine creation. The balance of the psalm celebrates the strength and beauty of the Torah and moves the reader behind the Torah to its Giver, thereby proclaiming the gospel of the well-ordered life. In Philippians 3 Paul speaks of himself as leaning into the future in response to the manner in which Jesus Christ has invaded his own life. The parable in Matthew 21 presents a direct and bold affinity for living in accordance with the gospel, producing “fruits of the kingdom.”
• Read Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20. If you are unable to live out the Commandments, which ones would you remove from the list?
• Read Psalm 19. If you monitored your speech for a day, how would you describe the tone and content? What one gift would you petition God for?
• Read Philippians 3:4b-14. How is your church and its people a sign for those who need hope and new life?
• Read Matthew 21:33-46. Where in your church, among the members and in the various meetings and activities, have you seen evidence that folks “have forgotten who owns the vineyard”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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