June 28: Good morning! Today in Psalms 83-87 amid what we have read before (pleas for deliverance from enemies, personal devotion to God) comes several beautiful depictions of life at its best. Ancient Israel’s highest aspirations are realized at physical and metaphysical mountaintops.
Two literal places of unsurpassed praise are (predictably) Jerusalem and its temple. Psalm 87 lauds Zion (a spiritual monicker for Jerusalem). At least to this writer, having an ancestry from Zion is just as meaningful as being from Philistia, Ethiopia, Babylon or any other triumphant ancient civilization. The utmost reason to praise Jerusalem is its temple, the heart of the universe. Psalm 84 rhapsodizes with yearning love and praise for the temple. It’s the best place in all the world, bar none. Every person and living creature finds its rightful place there, gathered in worldwide praise to God. This sense of being in the temple of God can be a practice of the heart also. According to the writer, holding a sense of the temple in the soul yields abundance and strength in daily life.
Extending further this disposition of the universally accessible “mountaintop”, Psalm 85 gives a rhapsodic description of the ethical ideal. After pleading for God’s forgiveness as in the past, the writer gives beautiful imagery of what it will look like when God’s favor is restored. Harmony in all the world includes this pleasing symmetry: “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” While Israel’s experience (and our own) seldom achieves these ideals, such natural and supernatural visions inspire the faithful to keep striving for the very best. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 88-89. Thanks for reading!