Monday, April 14, 2008

Day 105: Psalms 23 & 24

READING: Psalm 23 and Psalm 24

BACKGROUND:

David began as a shepherd and died as a king and these two psalms reflect on how God is our Shepherd (Psalm 23) and our King (Psalm 24). David, who knew what it was to shepherd sheep, used that metaphor in Psalm 23 to show God’s qualities and how He relates to us. And David was king of Israel and wielded quite a bit of power in his day, yet in Psalm 24 he praises God as the mighty King of Glory, rather than focusing on himself. Scholars believe that David wrote Psalm 24 to be sung in celebration of the Ark of the Covenant’s arrival at Jerusalem (II Samuel 6), and that it was sung antiphonally. Check out its arrangement in balanced or parallel phrases. I had a good time imagining it being sung! After reading Exodus and Leviticus I have a glimpse of just what that Ark meant to the Israelites.

REFLECTION:

I am so familiar with Psalm 23 that sometimes I miss just how meaningful and beautiful it is. I’ve read it this time in a version that’s a bit unfamiliar to me and that has helped me see it with new eyes. The psalm doesn’t tell us that we will have green pastures and still waters all the time, but it does say that when we go through the valley of the shadow of death our Lord will be with us, giving us comfort. He is with us so that we don’t have to be overpowered by fearing what evil can do to us. How does reflecting on God as your Shepherd affect your thoughts about your present and future? Soak your heart in the words of this psalm.

A phrase that has hit me is that He “guides us in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake”. Somehow it is reassuring to me that His guidance is not dependent on fickle me – not for my sake – but for the sake of His own unchanging name or character.

Psalm 24 opens by telling us that God is creator and owner of this world and all that is in it, including people. What does that have to do with the next few verses, about who can come into His presence? Don’t verses 3- 6 mean more to you after reading about the requirements and sacrifices in Leviticus? I am so grateful that Jesus came once for all to be my sacrifice, my Savior, to enable me to come directly to God, to draw near to Him. The rest of the psalm is David’s joyful response to the presence of his God and King entering his city! That same King: strong, mighty, invincible - lives in me. What is my response?

PRAYER:

Thank-you, LORD, for being both my tender and loving Shepherd and my mighty Warrior King.
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