Good morning, and happy July! We are officially in the second half of this whole year of reading the Bible together! Thank you for your steadfast patience with the texts of ancient Israel and our reflection together on what they might mean for humanity today. This has been a life-changing and life-expanding experience for me and for many of our colleagues in this effort!
Today, Psalms 95-101 contain some of my favorite passages in the entire Bible. While there are seven psalms to consider, most of them (95-99) fall in a category of “enthronement psalms”, praising the rule of God over all the world. Their overlapping subject matter make it best to consider them all together.
These psalms emphasize God’s unparalleled and righteous power as creator of all the earth, including the gods of other nations. Idols can’t hold a candle to the power and majesty of the real God. Proceeding from that bedrock assumption of divine sovereignty, at least four actions follow in response. The first is not even by human beings, but by the entire natural world. All creation is summoned to praise God with every atom of existence, proclaiming the goodness of God from the highest heavens to the depths of the seas. The world exults with joy—in psalms 96 and 97 especially—at the goodness of God’s reign.
Secondly, within this context of worldwide praise human beings have a special call to worship God for divine faithfulness. Psalm 95 opens with a lovely “call to worship” that sets the tone for the psalms to come. Psalm 99 references the history of God and the people in Zion, evoking leaders and miracles of old as a reminder of God’s forgiving and righteous salvation. Psalm 100 describes a riot of praise because the God of heaven and earth treats people with steadfast love and faithfulness.
Thirdly, humanity is called to “sing a new song” to God. The highest forms of praise are not found in repeating the “golden oldies”, which were venerable new songs in their own time. Rather, humanity is commissioned to craft joyful melodies that proclaim God’s mercies new every morning. A theologian of music I know starts every practice session of new songs with a reminder of this tenet. We are called to sing a new song!
Finally, these psalms lead us to manifesting in human lives the priorities of God already at work in the world. Psalm 101 describes one ruler’s intention to follow and uphold God’s ways as a righteous leader for the land. Righteous living seeks to reflect the divine character as much as possible among God’s people and creation. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Psalms 102-104. Thanks for reading!