2 Timothy 3 Rewind – Training in Writeousness

Before we tie a bow on the Timothies, I wanted to revisit one last pair of verses that we haven’t properly examined. I expect most of you will recognize the first of these verses, and you may even have memorized it if you were ever involved in scripture memory programs as a child. It’s one of Paul’s most-quoted lines: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). I memorized it in fourth or fifth grade as part of my church’s after-school program, R.A.D. (Radically Awesome Disciples). It was the 90s.

2 Corinthians 6 – Open Book

Incredibly long sentences are among Paul’s specialties. The first seven verses of Ephesians 2 are one example, and today’s chapter contains another one. From the start of 2 Corinthians 6 all the way through verse ten, that’s one sentence. And then Paul says: “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians” (11). No kidding.

Psalm 140 – Deliver Us from Evil

I’ve never been in a fistfight. One time I got into a tussle with my brother and shoved him into a pine bush (which I almost immediately regretted), but I’ve never thrown a real, honest-to-goodness, let’s-hurt-someone punch. David, on the other hand, has been in battles. He’s used a sling to kill lions and bears and a huge Philistine warrior; he’s picked up a sword and fought people who want to kill him. Dude wasn’t just a king and a musician, he was also a soldier. So, you know, psalms like Psalm 140 are a little foreign to me.

Psalm 137 – Real Music

From 2002 to 2004, I attended St. John’s College in Annapolis. Every student, among other things, had to take freshman chorus: we all had to learn to sing. One of the songs we sung was an arrangement of the first verse of Psalm 137: “By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept, when we remembered thee, O Zion.” This version, performed by Ensemble Sottovoce and written by Philip Hayes (1737-1797), is the arrangement I’m familiar with, but my Youtube-combing turned up several other versions, including one by Don “American Pie” Mclean, one from Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary Choir that uses a traditional Eastern Orthodox melody, and this performance by Trinity Church of England High School, which is absolutely haunting and would not be out of place in a Metroid game. As we’ve seen, the texts of the psalms are ripe for musical adaptation, and Psalm 137 is no exception.

Psalm 136 – Repeat Thanks, Repeat Thanks

Psalm 136 picks up Psalm 118’s repetition of the phrase “His lovingkindness is everlasting” in its opening verses and takes it to its logical conclusion: repeating it throughout the whole song. The result is a call-and-response worship song that is sure to get the whole ancient Hebrew congregation bouncing. It inspired the song “Forever,” written by Chris Tomlin and performed by Michael W. Smith on his 2001 album Worship. “Forever” repeats the line “His love endures forever” throughout the verses, but while it focuses on God’s faithfulness, power, and compassion for humankind in general, Psalm 136 is specifically a song from Israel’s history about Israel’s history.

Psalm 135 – Every Topic Under (and Over) the Sun

Psalm 135 isn’t exactly a brief history of the universe, but that’s the closest I can think of to a one-sentence summary of it. Going by Brueggemann’s classifications, it’s generally considered a psalm of new orientation, but I personally am inclined to read it as simple orientation. It’s a call to praise founded on conviction that God is good, and the only hint of having passed through disorientation (vv.8-11, recollection of Israel’s struggles against Pharaoh and various pagan kings) is a historical footnote, a distant memory at most. Moreover, it’s equal parts assertion of God’s supremacy, litany of Israelite history, and indictment of idolatry. If it evades encapsulation into a single summary with a single theme, then we can roll with that.

Psalm 134 – Night Shift

How are you sleeping these days? Lately I’ve been waking up too early and having trouble going back to sleep. I think the experience of perturbed sleep is common to man: we all have times when the demands of life interrupt the regularity of our sleep. I have a lot of respect for people whose jobs require them to keep odd hours, working at night and sleeping when the sun comes up. You know: police officers, night janitors, the third shift of the Levitical priesthood.

Psalm 133 – The Aaron’s Drippy Beard Song

Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint Today’s Passage: Psalm 133 I’m a messy person, but not a dirty one. You’ll find my workspaces littered with scrap paper, post-it notes and assorted office supplies, but every surface and pile will be clean, free of anything “gross.” I’ve never liked messy activities, even as a kid shying away […]