Thursday, December 6, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 17-18 and 1 Thessalonians 5

Psalm 17 – “O Lord, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips” (17:1).

“I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people. My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you” (17:4-5).

“Hide me in the shadow of your wings” (17:8).  The wicked people of this world “are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart—like young lions hiding in Ambush. Arise, O Lord! Stand against them, and bring them to their knees! Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!” (17:12-13).

“Because [or maybe rather IF] I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied” (17:15).

Psalm 18 – “I love you, Lord: you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in which I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me and my place of safety” (18:1-2).

“I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path” (18:3-5).

“But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; . . . He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook . . . He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet” (18:6-9).

“Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters” (18:15-16).

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity . . . You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud” (18:25-27).

“It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness” (18:28).

“You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever” (18:50).

This is a long and very beautiful hymn that must have been very meaningful to early Christians, who saw in Jesus Christ the fulfillment of the promise to “open the heavens and come down.” Its latter verses seem to get a little full of over confidence but it is still beautiful.

1 Thessalonians 5 – The “Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night” (5:3). “But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober” (5:4-6).

Let us therefore “put on faith and love for a breastplate, and the hope of salvation for a helmet (5:8).

“Be at peace among yourselves” (5:14) and do these things: “warn the idlers, give courage to those who are apprehensive, care for the weak and be patient with everyone. Make sure that people do not try to take revenge; you must all think of what is best for each other and for the community. Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus” (5:14-18).

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