I was in high school when I first discovered Sara Groves. If I remember correctly, my dad heard her song “The Word” on the radio and ended up buying her Conversations CD as a result. But the bridge of the song is this litany of scriptural truths…and just this morning, as I was reading today’s chapter, it hit me: almost all of her scripture selections are taken from Paul.
Paul really likes his metaphors. In this chapter, he’s hardly introduced one metaphor when he moves on to another: a metaphor-shark swimming in the stream of consciousness, never stopping. He’s got three metaphors here: a letter of commendation, the stone tablets of the old Law, and Moses’ veil.
Each weekday, I try to get into the day’s passage, dig something up and bring it back out for you. I’m having a hard time of it today. But that’s on me, not on the passage. Paul’s talking about Moses and the Exodus and the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings as a metaphorical lesson for the Corinthian church, and he’s back on the idolatry thing, this time saying that meat sacrificed to idols is actually sacrificed in the service of demons. There’s no shortage of stuff to dig into here. But it’s easier to watch some dude speedrun all of Super Mario All-Stars on Youtube than to get out the exegetical shovel and figure out what Paul’s trying to get across here.
I got a surprise this morning. According to my memory, Psalm 150 was a litany of exhortations to praise God with various musical instruments, with zero substantive theological content. As it turns out, the List of Approved Instruments is bookended by reasons to praise God, a context to establish why praising God is a good thing to do with your music. The lessons here are twofold: the best source for determining what the Bible says is the actual Bible, and also my memory is failing me in my old age. I’m thirty-four.
I’ve been trying to write this entry today, and the inertia is palpable. Some psalms it’s easy to sing along with. This one, though? I hit the midpoint and just about got whiplash. Psalm 149 is a praise song, it’s as much a product of ancient Jewish culture as psalms like 147 and 132, and it’s a song about singing, and I would characterize it as a psalm of new orientation—but man, if it doesn’t induce disorientation in me. It may be a psalm of praise, but it’s also a psalm of war.
Who should praise God? The beings in the heavens and the beings on the earth. And why should they praise him? Because he is the greatest being. There, that’s Psalm 148. Good work, everyone; see you tomorrow.
The home stretch of the book of Psalms is full of songs of praise, and Psalm 147 is no exception. Brueggemann’s classification scheme designates it as a psalm of new orientation, in which the formerly oppressed and wounded of Israel praise God for coming to their aid. Having been lifted out of the pit of suffering, Israel now worships God in song for his protection and provision.