It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reflection on readings for July 10

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
(Psalm 8:1)

1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14
After the exile, the Levites were the first to return to Jerusalem from Babylon, with a reminder that Judah had been taken into exile because of their unfaithfulness. Time shift. The chronicler moves back to King Saul, with a reminder that Saul brought on his own death because of his unfaithfulness to God. 

Acts 27:21-44
The storm had lasted so long that the sailors had given up hope of being saved. Paul announced to them  "We wouldn't be in this problem if you had listened to me. Listen to me now. You're going to lose the ship but not your lives. An angel from God has told me that I have to stand before the emperor and all you sailors are necessary to get me there."

When they got near land, some of the sailors tried to escape, but Paul told the guards who prevented their escape. Paul is living out the command that God has made to him to face the emperor. The ship wrecked on the rocks near the shore. Paul's guard wouldn't let the soldiers kill the prisoners but ordered everybody to jump overboard and make for land. All did.

Psalm 8:1-9
The psalmist addresses God as the powerful king of the earth--and of the heavens, as well. The glory of God is visible. Contemplating what God has done, the psalmist asks, "Why do you pay any attention to us humans? Why do you care what happens to us?

I wasn't sure what verse 2 meant, "Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger," so I turned to several commentaries. Among them was The Book of Psalms, A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter.

He says that the phrase "mouths of babes and sucklings [his translation] does not have a clear meaning and has never been satisfactorily explained. He supplies what he terms a distant possibility:
God draws strength from consciously aware humankind, made in His image, even from its weakest and youngest members, against the inhuman forces of chaos. Perhaps the innocence of infants is imagined as a source of strength.
This powerful, majestic God turns to the weakest among us to put an end to threats.

"O God," the Psalmist sings, "When I consider your glory, when I consider your power, when I consider what you have created, I wonder why you bother with us."

God is greater, much greater than human beings. Yet, don't get too humble. God has a job for us.

Many of us can use this psalm to prod us or to assure us of the value of what we're trying to do--or, ought to be. We're responsible for maintaining, caring for, being responsible for, God's creations--human and earthly.

Proverbs 18:23-24
The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
Some friends play at friendship,
but a true friend sticks closer
     than one's nearest kin.

Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 8--and mean it.

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