Thursday, January 17, 2019

Our Master and Our Mistress

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.
Ps. 123:2 

The words of today's psalm are beautiful, but it's difficult for the 21st century mind to grasp the full meaning of them. So I'm going to leave it to a fourth century mind to do the commentary:

We are both servants, and a handmaiden: He is both our Master and our Mistress. What do these words mean? What do these similitudes mean? It is not wonderful if we are servants, and he our Master; but it is wonderful if we are a maiden, and he our Mistress. But not even our being a maiden is wonderful; for we are the church. Nor is it wonderful that he is our Mistress;

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Peace of Jerusalem

In the Bible there are fifteen Songs of Ascent (Pss 120-134). There's some debate as to their original intent, but the one that makes sense to me—and which is by far the most evocative—is that they're the songs that were sung by pilgrims on their way to worship God in Jerusalem. With that as my assumption then, I consider Psalm 122 to be both the most typical and beautiful of these psalms:

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Noise of a Leaf

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
Ps. 121:7-8 

How few are to be found who yield to God the honor of being a keeper, in order to their being thence assured of their safety, and led to call upon him in the midst of their perils! On the contrary, even when we seem to have largely experienced what this protection of God implies, we yet instantly tremble at the noise of a leaf falling from a tree, as if God had quite forgotten us. Being then entangled in so many unholy misgivings, and so much inclined to distrust, we are taught from the passage that if a sentence couched in a few words does not suffice us, we should gather together whatever may be found throughout the whole scriptures concerning the providence of God, until this doctrine—that God always keeps watch for us—is

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Keeper of Israel

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Ps. 121:4 

God is 'the Keeper of Israel.' No form of unconsciousness ever steals over him, neither the deeper slumber nor the slighter sleep. He never fails to watch the house and the heart of his people. This is a sufficient reason for our resting in perfect peace. Alexander said that he slept because his friend Parmenio watched; much more may we sleep because our God is our guard. 'Behold' is here set up to call our attention to the cheering truth. Israel, when he had a stone for his pillow, fell asleep; but his God was awake, and came in vision to

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How Firm a Foundation: When, Not If

One side of baptism that I think we like best is the idea of cleansing and refreshment. We can all relate to a nice bath, of course. But there are many other images that come to mind. A dip in a cool pool on a hot day. Or how about children jumping through a lawn sprinkler in the summer? You can picture the spray oscillating in the sunshine creating its own rainbow, and kids sailing with abandon through the water droplets suspended momentarily in the air, even as they create their own rainbow. Or speaking of summer vacation and refreshing water, how about getting a drink from the garden hose when we were kids? We might not do that now, but there’s no denying that there was something especially refreshing about that during our

The Baptism of the Lord

January 6 is a holiday called the Epiphany (the day the Magi visited the infant Jesus). On the first Sunday after the Epiphany, the western church (i.e. Protestants and Roman Catholics) celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.

I Lift My Eyes

There are no question marks in ancient Hebrew, so Psalm 121:1 is ambiguous. Older translations made it a statement, with verse 2 being a continuation of the same thought. Here are those two verses in the 16th century Geneva Bible (the later KJV is similar): 
I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains, from whence my help shall come. 
Mine help cometh from the Lord, which hath made the heaven and the earth. 
New translations, though, make verse 1 a question, with verse 2 being its