An Alaskan Psalm ~ Psalm Study

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This Alaskan Psalm was created by Andy, Melissa, Carol, Frank and Sarah. It was written in the style of Psalm 140. Enjoy.

Praise the Lord
The mountains praise you
Your creation is just a glimpse of Your majesty
We have only a taste of the buffet of your glory
Great is the Lord.

Before the mountains existed
Before the Kenai ran turquoise
All this was in your mind
The complex harmony
Unseen in your thoughts alone.

Seward lies at the height of Resurrection
Surrounded by ice and rock
Sea otters cradle their young
Floating on the mattress of their own bellies.
Killer whales remind us of your ferocity
As we gaze with fear and awe.
Sea lions cling to the island stone
Showing us how we must stand on our Rock.
The salmon are your bounty
That You have provided for Your children.
Silver and swift
They dwell in the deep
As the ocean waves pass over,
The dark teems below.
The heavens are full of your creatures,
Puffins and bald eagles and seagulls
Bridging the gap between the waters above and below.

Cooper Landing sings your praise.
The mighty bears look to you
To give them their salmon at the Run,
Fireweed shouts your beauty
As the bees drink Your nectar.
You sustain the moose
And shroud it in the cover of your forests.
The pines reach up toward you
And the falls tumble down.
Mountains rise up in grandeur
And valleys bow down in submission to You.

I want to flee to the North
When the earth quakes and the mountains tremble
Where the cold holds us at bay,
Your creation is safer
And the animals play.
Even though much is extinct
and the rest is in decay
still the immeasurable beauty of it all
takes my breath away.
Man has brought the curse
Upon your good world
How then can we stand
And still give you praise?
You use creation both good and broken
To draw us back to you in wonder.

This was your wise plan
That in your great mercy
You did not utterly wash us away
For our iniquity and pride.
Though justice was on your side
You absorbed it all in our place
Your mountains and rivers of wrath
Fell on Him instead.

Therefore we praise You!
Creator of glaciers and eagles
For You have brought forth all this
Even more, You have washed us of our stains
To make us as white as snow-capped mountains
Praise the Lord!
Let all Alaska praise Your Name!

Psalm 131 ~ Psalm Study

Read Psalm 131 here

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This is a short but powerful and beautiful psalm. There is a sense of a somber and deeply reflective heart. It is a prayer of humility and trust in God. The psalmist has “Calmed and quieted his/her soul” and simply comes to God with perhaps a heavy heart and, one that desires to rest and trust in God.

Have you ever had those moments? Maybe you have had those times when life is hard to describe but you know that your heart is carrying much, and you desire to simply come and be with God? Not many words are said here, but the psalmist is quieting and stilling his/her soul to simply be in the presence of God.

Don’t miss the words, “I am content.” What does it take to be content? Sometimes we are so busy in the midst of our own troubles or in the pursuit of “happiness” that we can miss the quiet, calm contentment that God brings into our lives.

At the end is a plea for the community to have hope in God. I love that. We live in a world that is in desperate need of hope. Many times in our own lives we can feel  a sense of hopelessness. Yet, the psalmist becomes still and reverent in the presence of God and invites us into a hope “From this time and forevermore” that can only come from God. May we still our selves before God and believe in this amazing hope offered by putting our trust in God.

Psalm 130 ~ Psalm Study

Read Psalm 130 here

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In today’s psalm we begin to see a different shift in the psalmist’s prayers. We see deep emotion and a deep cry for God’s mercy and listening ear. These types of psalms, called psalms of lament, are some of my favorites because they give us permission to be real with God.

We are able to come to God with our questions, fears, angers, and deep heart-felt emotions. Even in the midst of the psalmist’s crying out, there is still a rooted belief that God is good, God is loving, and that God has the power to redeem!  It’s an acknowledging that even in uncertain times, we can believe that God is at work and that God listens to us and meets us with forgiveness and strength. God is faithful!

Today be real in your prayers between you and God. If you are grateful and joyfilled then praise God in that. If you are sorrowful, hurting, or struggling express that to God from your heart. The psalms give us permission to come to God in the fullness of where we are in life: in joy and in pain, in assurance and in questioning. God is a big God and can handle our deep emotions. If the psalmist can be real with God, then what is stopping us from being real as well?

Psalm 129 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 129 here

A first read of this psalm can leave one a bit confused and scratching their head. It seems to be a psalm that doesn’t make much sense to us and so we can easily think to just skip over this one.

Yet, there is some power and beauty in this psalm hidden in its context. This is a community song of thanksgiving and/or trust. The communal people are recounting their long history of being oppressed and how God has freed them from their evil oppressors.

What does this mean for us today? That can a difficult question, perhaps this is another reminder that God has a heart for the oppressed. God sees, God hears, and God knows the cry of the oppressed. (Exodus 3) God is in the process of bringing liberation and freedom to those who are being oppressed by poverty, human trafficking, racism, classism, sexism or any other form of societal evil. America is currently in the midst of a break down between races that, at the heart, needs fresh eyes and willing hearts to work together. Pay particular attention to verse 8: What can we DO to help those who are feeling the pain of being oppressed? We are reminded that God uses us to be the instruments to bring freedom and justice in this world. May we celebrate the ways in which God is bringing freedom and may we find ways of how we can join in God’s work of liberation so that all will be able to offer a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s deliverance.

Here is a great song by Tim Hughes that reminds us that God is a God of justice.

Psalm 128 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 128 here

This psalm gives instruction about the rewards of living in obedience to the Lord. It carries forward the themes of fruitful work and the blessing of children. This psalms speaks of a joy and happiness that comes from walking in the ways of God.

Though faith is challenging, and following Christ is never easy, it does and can give us great joy. The more we allow God to shape our hearts the more our hearts rejoice in doing what God desires. The more we continue to seek after God the more we long to walk in the ways of God and our hearts becomes more grateful and excited to please God.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and the Lord will give you the desires of your heart.” Often we think that if we can love God more then God will give us the things we want. Perhaps we can be challenged to think differently. What if we think about taking delight in God, and therefore God will give us the DESIRES that our hearts SHOULD have? Taking delight in God is beautiful in itself for we experience the life-giving presence of God, and through that, God shapes and molds our hearts to have God-like desires. We can have a true desire to follow and live like Christ lived, and love all people. We, too, can have this joy and happiness to walk in the ways of God that our psalmist speaks of today.

May we seek after that joy in happiness in walking in the ways of God. We might ask, “What ask are those ways?” Comment on ways you believe God calls us to walk. What ways are we to walk in love? Who is our neighbor with whom we should walk in the ways of love?

Psalm 127 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 127 here

I love the beginning of this psalm. It speaks some amazing truth to our work as the church. So many times it’s easy to get caught up in trying to do ministry and seeking to reach out all on our own efforts. Even though we may give our best efforts and our best intentions, we can forget that we are meant to partner with God in the carrying out of our ministry. This psalm reminds us that we are to partner with God in the work of ministry. God must be involved if our work is to see fruits. For if God is not involved, working in, and leading our efforts then we are working in vain.

I love this picture posted above. We can look at the map two ways: a map of the world reminding us that the world is our parish and that there are many in the world in need; or we can view it as map of our own journey. We are traveling on this road and seeking to connect our stories to God. Perhaps we should look at the picture in both ways, or maybe one way speaks to us more than another. Either way it is a reminder that our work and our story must be shadowed by the Christ and by God’s grace. The cross reminds us that we are to die to self and let Christ live through us so that our work is not in vain and allow God to be leading our work.

Psalm 126 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 126 here in the New Living Translation

This is a powerful psalm of praise and renewal of life. It was written to celebrate the return of the Hebrew people from exile in Babylon. This event was a dream come true. They couldn’t believe the good news that they could return home to Jerusalem. They were so happy that they were singing and shouting for joy. Most importantly, they gave all the credit and glory to God.

How many times in our lives has the amazing thing that we dreamed about come true? This could be a wedding, a good job, a baby,  a good grade, a new friend, whatever seemed to be the impossible. Did we shout for joy? Did we dance? Did we give the credit and glory to God?

This was true renewal of life itself. The writer tries to describe this renewal as best as possible. Then the writer begs for more. Lord, now restore our fortunes like a stream flowing and giving life in the desert.

We are reminded that the people of God live “by both memory and hope.”(Clinton McCann’s words)  Even if you are in a time of tears now,  new possibilities await. God is the author of all good things. You might be planting in tears now, but the harvest will come. Be patient and continue to make your request to God in faith that through God, all things are possible.

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28

Psalm 125 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 125 here

The psalms we are currently reading continue to be psalms of ascent, psalms that were sung as the pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem. It is no wonder that the pilgrims sang of Mount Zion, as that was, at the time, synonymous with the Temple. The Temple of course was the Holy place, and the Israelites understood that God was in residence in the temple. The temple housed the Ark of The Covenant, which was the most holy relic for the Israelites. It was often said that the Ark of The Covenant was the footstool of God. So, it is no wonder that the people sang of what they were about to see as they approached Jerusalem; they spoke of the places they were going to see in relation to their God. (Note, they would not have seen the Arc itself, as that was in the most holy place within the temple.)

Notice that the closing statement is, “Peace be upon Israel”. This is no ordinary peace, this is the Shalom that is full wholeness–completeness for all people and all lands. The Hebrew word is Shalom, and this Shalom refers to the final reign of God. This is the Shalom that existed in the Garden of Eden prior to what we call The Fall, when human disobedience ushered in Sin which destroyed the Shalom.

Christians see this ultimate Shalom in the fulfillment of the second coming of Jesus. Jesus’ ministry brought in the beginning of the Kingdom of God, the spark that was the beginning of what will come. Ultimately Jesus is the one that offers peace to all followers (See John 20.) Christians understand that the final peace will come when Jesus comes again and a new heaven and earth will be ushered in where the “lion and the lamb” will lie down one with another.

May peace reign in your home, in your land, and in your hearts.

Psalm 124 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 124 Here:

Today’s Psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving. This is a song of thanksgiving by the community as they remember and proclaim God’s deliverance of the people from their enemies.

We have so much to be thankful for this day and everyday. What are we thankful for today? Perhaps today you can think and be grateful and praise God for the way that God has blessed you. What is God doing in our lives that gives us joy in our hearts that we are thankful for? Who are the people that God has brought into our lives for whom we are thankful?

Here is a song that speaks to me by the David Crowder Band that invites us to come and listen to what God has done in our lives and in the world. Take a few moments to listen to it and thank God for the many wonderful moments, people, and joys in life for which God has blessed us. Let us be thankful! Amen.

Listen: Come and Listen by David Crowder Band

Psalm 123 ~ Psalm Study

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Read Psalm 123 here

This psalm is a community prayer for help. It begins with a reminder that God is truly God. God is “enthroned in the heavens” and we should be lifting our eyes in wonder at the very presence of who God is. We focus our eyes on God looking for God’s own mercy knowing that God hears and cares.

This could have been a prayer uttered by a leader on behalf of the community and calls for an attitude and heart of dependence on God. In verse four we see a prayer of a struggling people with heavy hearts, but continuing to believe that God is rich in mercy and grace.

This is not a long psalm and that is ok. Sometimes we long to cry out to God but don’t always know what to say and that is ok. too. Sometimes we cannot utter many words but we long for God’s mercy and grace. May this psalm remind us that God is enthroned in the Heavens, God is powerful, God is creator, and that same God is loving and extends mercy and grace to us as we cry out in despair. Our words do not have to be many, but may our hearts but ever dependent upon God and ever seeking to join our own heart with God’s heart.