Preacher: “Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Seeker: It seems remarkable to me, Preacher, that the Lord God’s steadfast love endures for humanity & creation, and for the ancient and modern called & chosen people. And by remarkable I mean, as the psalmist does, something to be spoken of and celebrated. Really, it should not surprise us that the Divine is so loving and filled with patience. But it does surprise us, actually. I guess we judge in human terms.
Preacher: “Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or declare all his praise?”
Seeker: The psalmist is correct there too; it would take eternal generations (as I think about it) to speak about all the mighty doings of the Lord God and declare all the praise the Divine is worthy of. Part of that is of course the Divine keeps doing mighty and praise worthy things!
Preacher: We do our part, Seeker, by speaking up and out about the Lord God. It not only spreads the good news of the Lord God but heals and soothes our spirit. “Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.”
Seeker: I never thought about praising the Lord God as doing “righteousness”; but sort of makes sense. That just might help me praise when I my human-will inclination would be to complain.
Preacher: “Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you deliver them; that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory in your heritage.”
Seeker: I hear both praise and supplication in the words of the psalmist. And adoration. We must never forget that praise and adoration may seem similar but they are distinctive actions of worship. Neither should we forget thanksgiving, petition, and confession. While the psalms can lead us in all types of worship styles and purposes, it is up to us to offer up all types of worship.
Preacher: “Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.” The sins of the ancient called and chosen people happened early on in the history of the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews. While guided by such leaders as King David, the psalmist and other writers, the ancient called and chosen people allow themselves to be misguided many times. (Psalm 106:1-6)
Seeker: “They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image.”
Preacher: False worship is an ugly and destructive sin – whenever, wherever, and however it is practiced
Seeker: “They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.”
Preacher: How often – too often – we race after things that do not satisfy and do not last. Nothing of this world lasts forever. To worship it is folly. The only things that last in this world are those that move us into the Kingdom of Heaven. In the past weeks we have heard many parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.
Seeker: “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.”
Preacher: It is no use saying the Lord God has forgotten us, so we can forget the Divine. The signs of the Divine are all around us. Did you know, Seeker, the more you praise & worship the signs of the Divine, the more you will see?
Seeker: “Therefore he said he would destroy them– had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.” (Verses 19 – 23)
Preacher: Ah, there we run up against the theology that is presented in the Old Testament. Harsh warnings and threats from a Divine God who is jealous if our attention wanders. The ancient called and chosen people wandered from the Lord God. The modern called and chosen people wander from the Lord God. But we and they do not understand is that our mis-worship does not harm the Divine – how could it? Wrongly spoken and offered worship harms us! That is why the Divine through the prophets condemned it. Because the Divine could not bear us to be harmed. Like a good parent that snatches a innocent child from danger and scolds, the Lord God tries to wrest away from what will harm us. And humanity interprets it as anger, until we understand better.
Seeker: I had wondered about that, Preacher. But that is a good image for me to hold when I read the Old Testament. And very likely an image that the psalmist had in mind; it explains why the psalmist felt emboldened to speak candidly to his Lord God. And why he encourages his reader to speak openly to the Divine as well. Thank you!
Preacher: On behalf of the psalmist, and from myself, you are welcome Seeker! Shalom & Selah!