Habakkuk 1 – Point and Counterpoint and Counter-Counterpoint

I didn’t expect Habakkuk to open as it did, especially just coming from Nahum. Nahum’s prophecy begins with forceful, evocative statements of God’s strength and righteous judgment. Habakkuk, however, begins with a question, and he follows it with further questions. Where Nahum confidently asserts God’s strength against his enemies, Habakkuk asks: don’t you hear me, God? Why won’t you save us? What are you doing?

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Psalm 149 – Worship and Warcraft

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.

Psalm 70 – A Prayer for Shame

Psalm 70 is a short, to-the-point prayer for deliverance from enemies. David brings his needs before God and pleads for God to rescue him. Nearly half of the psalm, however, expresses a desire for David’s enemies to be disgraced. He prays, “Let those be ashamed and humiliated who seek my life” (2). And on the one hand, the request isn’t terribly shocking, because we’ve seen him wish much worse on his foes–but on the other hand, isn’t it superfluous? Why add insult to prevention of injury?

Psalm 68 – Christmas From the Underground

Just so you’ve got an overview of Psalm 68, for that inevitable moment when I zero in on a single line in this 35-verse behemoth: it’s about God’s strength, his protection of his people, and his triumph over evildoers. And when I say “behemoth,” I mean by comparison to its immediate surroundings. The psalms in proximity have been ten, maybe twenty verses long, but man, we ain’t even near Psalm 119 yet. Psalm 119! Dang, son.

Psalm 45 – Cupid and the Reaper

The sons of Korah are at it again with a song celebrating the king’s marriage. Imagine, for a moment, that you are getting married, and instead of picking out an existing song to be played at your wedding, you decide that no other song in existence will do. A new love song will have to be written to commemorate the occasion. What will be the theme of your song? What will it sound like? Will it talk about shooting your foes with arrows?

Psalm 18 (contd.) – Violence Versus Victory

Welcome back to Psalm 18, gang. It should come as no surprise that a psalm of this length contains more material than I can adequately cover in one post. I’d wanted to tackle the issues raised by David’s triumphant destruction of his foes, but I didn’t get to yesterday, so we’re revisiting the passage to deal with its difficult questions, because the Bible is a Chocolate Book. David writes that God has “rescued him from the violent man” (48), but is he himself just like the violent men he counts as his enemies? And is God complicit in his brutality?