The Fourth Week of Advent: We Sing of God While We Wait

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David: ‘I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ “ (Psalm 89:1-4)

I am not sure, but I think there are several songs that have been based on this scripture. It reads like a song, and if the notes and references in our bibles are accurate, the Psalms were written as actual songs of praise. But other than being scripture passages for Advent and Christmas, this Psalm is not directly related to this season. Why then might this Psalm be used?

Well, first it is because of the Lord’s steadfast love that we have baby Jesus. Second, Jesus was in the line of King David through his earthly father Joseph.

Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said: “I have set the crown on one who is mighty, I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.” (Psalm 89:19-21)

But, beloved reader, as the Psalms continued to be used down the generations the Psalms passage became more generally appropriated and applied. People placed themselves within the Psalms and used them to administer to their own wounds and needs. No longer was it just the “servant David” the one who the reader felt God was talking to, but they felt God was talking to them.

“The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted. I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’ “ (Psalm 89:22-26)

However, sometimes the Psalms speak about things even above and beyond our existence. Sometimes the claims the Psalms make seem to be about someone even more powerful and even more able than humanity. What the Psalmist originally hoped for him/her self seems to made manifest through the baby Jesus. The adult Jesus was foreordained to wondrous things, and wondrous things for us. It is through the Psalms that we can bring and sing of honor and glory.

May you, beloved reader, bring and sing praises to our Lord God and the son that God sent to us. And may blessing and honor be bestowed upon you by that Lord God. Selah!

REWARD OF THE PIOUS . . . In the past and in the present

When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Reference: Psalm 126 )

If this passages seems vaguely familiar, beloved, it is not your imagination. It was exactly one week ago that Psalms 126 was one of the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) that I commented on for the Third Week of Advent. In my introduction I had said that the scripture passages used in RCL were passages used at other times. Perhaps not explaining it precisely that way, but wanting you to understand that the scripture found in the RCL is well known and frequently used.

Apparently the historic Anabaptists found such passages instructive for their lives also. This particular passage was a reminder to them that times of struggle and tribulation were not forgotten by the Lord, but would be remembered and rewarded by the Lord. Jelis Matthijss wrote, “Hence, O my flesh, my blood, comfort yourself with these promises, this I pray you; for those who sow here in tears, shall hereafter reap in great joy. Ps. 126:5. Oh, therefore do not think, my dear lamb, that the tears you now weep will have been wept in vain; for they have already come before the face of the Lord.

In the same way the sentiments of Advent are ones we can carry with us throughout the whole year. Year B is the year of renewal and re-commitment to God. God never falters in the Divine’s faithfulness. And welcomes back those who have gone astray; and reminds them (and us) that what they may have suffered for faith’s sake will be rewarded. Beloved, take this passage into your heart and savor it for the promises and pronouncements it gives. And if you have wandered from faith, let this season of Advent be a time when you return, secure in the knowledge that our Lord remembers our times of trouble. Selah!