Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pentecost 6C

Psalm 16

1Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
3As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

5The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

7I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
8I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
10For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In the church's year of grace we're now seriously into the Time of the Church.


For the past few weeks we've been doing a continuous reading of Galatians with its emphasis on the gospel of death and resurrection, and its central theme of freedom. In Galatians the apostle Paul offers cautions about human-made laws such as sacrifice, ceremony, keeping kosher, and circumcision; last week in Galatians 3:23-29 Paul finally talks about law in the sense of the ten commandments of the Sinai covenant, as he juxtaposes law and gospel. We mentioned the three uses of the law that theologians in the traditions of the Reformation sometimes opine about.

In all of his letters, Paul makes a huge deal of our organic incorporation into Christ that happens in baptism. Today's second reading [Galatians 5:1, 13-25] brings us his famous fruits of the spirit. Check out different translations and versions of this text for some interesting ideas!


In scripture the book of 150 psalms is 5 smaller "books" compiled into larger one.

Psalm dates range from the united monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon through the post-exilic period, possibly as late as the Persian empire. The Babylonian empire had a large repository of psalms that strongly influenced Hebrew hymnody. The Psalter was the prayerbook and the hymnal of the Jerusalem Temple and later of the synagogue.

The church throughout the centuries has prayed the psalter several times through every year in the canonical hours of the divine office.

The Psalter was the hymnal of John Calvin's Geneva Reform.

Martin Luther described the psalms as "the bible in miniature." I mentioned Galatians as "Reformation Central" – everyone knows Martin Luther's paraphrase of Psalm 46, "A Mighty Fortress is our God," as The Reformation Hymn par excellence.

A lot of the songs in all the denominational hymnals are direct psalm versions or paraphrases or at least refer to a psalm. Or two. Or three.

Psalm 16

Psalm 16 connects especially well with Galatians, as it centers on monotheism, the acknowledgment and worship of only one God, and on the joy of obedience. Psalm 16:7 and 16:9 mention the human heart, which in Hebrew biology mainly is the seat of the will rather than of the emotions as modern Westerners think of the heart.

Psalm 16:7 for us to bless the Lord who blesses us!

Psalm 16:10 is a resurrection promise —"Sheol" historically has been the place of departed spirits, with probably no further connotation.

Psalm 16:11 tells us God shows us the path of life, the life we know as obedience to the commandments, and in God's presence we find "fullness of joy." In God's right hand (God's sovereignty) we discover "pleasures forevermore."

What psalms are your favorites? I especially love the Nativity Psalms 96, 98 and 148.

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