Lifting hearts to God in thanks and praise.

Posts tagged ‘joy’

PoMo: Psalm 24

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a psalm a day. Join me?

A Psalm of David.

1 The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah

This was another psalm that I memorized in elementary school days. Its couplets (of meaning, not rhyme) are fun and its meter (I memorized in KJV but this ESV is similar) lends itself to being read (or recited) aloud. Try it?

I thought that I knew a tune to this psalm; that I had sung it in my memorizing days, but perhaps it only was the meter that carried me through because I found that all my searching was dissatisfying and I didn’t find what I thought I knew. However, there was one recording that was really lovely, paired with scenes from Jerusalem (I assume) and you can click here to watch it. I don’t know why even Karl Kohlhase’s recording was disappointing to me, so perhaps I should recite Psalm 24 all day and see if it morphs into music. Oh, it’s in the Messiah! (Yes, that explains why other versions just weren’t…Handel!)

This psalm is basically saying two things: God owns everything and everyone because he made it and you approach God in cleanness and purity. (how? well, that’s why we start every worship service with confession and forgiveness, why Jesus said to forgive others before you pray so that God will forgive you and hear you: it’s not that we are always clean and pure but that we are always washing our hearts before God)

That’s the first half of the psalm, and the second is a joyous command to celebrate the Lord of Glory. Lift up the heads of gates and doors? Is that like the portcullis being lifted? Or is it like my own head being lifted in hope, in joy? As a child, I thought David was personifying the gates: imagine gates with faces lifted up to welcome the King arriving. Then I thought it was about the people at the gate who cheer. Now I think it is my own heart, the gates to my heart being clear and clean and welcoming God at work in me.

All thanks and praise to God!


PoMo: Psalm 4

April is poetry month. I’m celebrating by reflecting on a Psalm a day, and perhaps posting a poem of my own. Join me? 

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

This mug quotes Psalm 4:7 although just the first part of the verse.


But often a quote of just the first part alludes to the whole, as Ephesians 4:26 quotes the first part of Psalm 4:4 (I never saw that before today.):

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (Eph. 4:26)

Be angry and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. (Ps. 4:4)

Do they inform each other? I think so, and from what I learned yesterday about working through a desperate situation by prayer, I think this pondering in your heart on your bed and being silent has a limit: work it through with God and then go to sleep in peace. The sun going down on your anger reminds me not of going to bed but of the Hebrew day ending with sunset: don’t carry over from one day to the next anger or grudge. I sure am guilty of that one! But bless the Lord, he has also answered my prayers to pull bitter roots and restore my heart so many, many times.

He has put more joy in my heart this past weekend than any drunk party goer can rival. Easter Vigil with its candlelight, 12 miracle readings and sung Psalms, affirmation of baptism, and earliest service of resurrection is the best party ever, in my opinion, growing my heart in faith and in love toward other believers gathered and absent. But all three services (Good Friday and Easter morning too) were amazing and filled with God’s love poured out on his people gathered there. How has God poured joy into your heart, more than you can express lately? If not lately, when was it the most ever?

Last reflection: Psalm 4:8 is a verse I first encountered in a little book of Bible verses and illustrations for my baby girl. Reading it to her, I began to appreciate this verse so much. Getting to sleep can be a challenge for some more than others, but all of us can affirm that it is God who makes us to dwell in safety. I’d like a mug with that verse on it, to drink my evening cup of tea before bed! Maybe I’ll have to visit one of those paint-your-own-pottery stores and design one. In the meantime, if you see what I have in mind, please send a picture or link in the comments.

All thanks and praise to God!