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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 5/4/2016

Robert Chen

Dear Church:


1   O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
          his steadfast love endures forever!


2   Let Israel say, 
          “His steadfast love endures forever.” 
3   Let the house of Aaron say, 
          “His steadfast love endures forever.” 
4   Let those who fear the LORD say, 
          “His steadfast love endures forever.”


5   Out of my distress I called on the LORD; 
          the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place. 
6   With the LORD on my side I do not fear. 
          What can mortals do to me? 
7   The LORD is on my side to help me; 
          I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. 
8   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
          than to put confidence in mortals. 
9   It is better to take refuge in the LORD
          than to put confidence in princes.


10  All nations surrounded me; 
          in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
11  They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; 
          in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
12  They surrounded me like bees; 
          they blazed like a fire of thorns; 
          in the name of the LORD I cut them off! 
13  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, 
          but the LORD helped me. 
14  The LORD is my strength and my might; 
          he has become my salvation.


15  There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: 
     “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; 
16       the right hand of the LORD is exalted; 
          the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.” 
17  I shall not die, but I shall live, 
          and recount the deeds of the LORD. 
18  The LORD has punished me severely, 
          but he did not give me over to death.


19  Open to me the gates of righteousness, 
          that I may enter through them
          and give thanks to the LORD.


20  This is the gate of the LORD; 
          the righteous shall enter through it.


21  I thank you that you have answered me
          and have become my salvation. 
22  The stone that the builders rejected
          has become the chief cornerstone. 
23  This is the LORD’s doing; 
          it is marvelous in our eyes. 
24  This is the day that the LORD has made; 
          let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
25  Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! 
          O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!


26  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. 
          We bless you from the house of the LORD. 
27  The LORD is God, 
          and he has given us light. 
     Bind the festal procession with branches, 
          up to the horns of the altar.


28  You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; 
          you are my God, I will extol you.


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


Smack dab in the middle of the Bible is the Book of Psalms. 


The Psalms (as a collection) is not historical narrative (like much of the OT), it is not Law, it is not doctrine.


The Psalms were actually used in Israel's worship. They were recited and sang; they were memorized; they were danced to. 

Why would song lyrics, essentially, be included as part of God's Word?


If we were collecting material for such an important document or collection of writings as Scripture, wouldn't we think twice about putting in poetry and lyrics used in worship?  


Israel did not think twice. Given the amount of material collected (150 psalms!) the Psalms were obviously important to the life of Israel. Their importance was not theoretical or abstract. The inspired Psalms' importance had everything to do with their relationship to God. They were the words of devotion to God. The thought content of prayers and hopes were voiced in the Psalms. The refrains (like to one above in bold) reminded Israel that indeed God's "steadfast love endures forever!"


Israel's God was a real God in real relationship with flesh-and-blood people. It seems strange to say it like this, but the Psalms were in fact, for many, the life-blood of genuine feelings, longings, hopes, and concerns directed to the God who loved them. 


This worship language, this love language, this adoration language -- over time -- would shape and form Israel's very view of God, and color and contour Israel's relationship with God. 


There's a saying in theology that recalls what theology should be about: "theology should always lead to doxology." Meaning, the study of God should lead one to the worship of God. But it's true the other way around as well: doxology leads to (good) theology. Only as we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth will we become true theologians (thinkers of God). Minus worship in our lives, we will end up at best theological parrots, repeating theological truths without really knowing/experiencing these truths. 


To "know" in the biblical sense of first-hand experience, we need to become and always be serious worshipers of the Living Triune God. Serious worshipers, as we know, are happy worshipers, because to see God in worship is to see who we are in Christ and to see how God delights in us! And deeply happy worshipers are the real theologians. 


So, let us become worshipers and theologians which by now you've figured are one and the same. 


Let's pray: O Lord God, help us to become worshipers of you in spirit and in truth. May it be true that from that place of daily worship that we would see you and know you. From the place of adoration we will have true thoughts of who you are and believe for our own sake that you are for us, always. In Jesus' name, amen.