Psalms: Prayerbook of the Bible.2–New World Order

by admin on August 14, 2013

Psalm 29
Reflections for 11 August 2013

Have you ever been caught in or witnessed first hand a full fledged thunderstorm—crashes of thunder and electrifying displays of lightning?

A couple of years ago we were caught in one of momentous proportions. Driving home from Columbus to on a summer’s night massive thunderstorm front reaching across state from Delaware to Marion. What a light show—lightning, thunder, downpour…and trucks swerving all over US23.

Pow….crack….we were so close at times you could hear the lightning buzz. Wipers were of little avail and the car was wind swept. You know how that goes…. All the while….my gosh look at that..and that..and that…wow….what a glorious sight. Bright as the day…..black as coal. Awesome in totality. Nothing beats a late spring thunderstorm in Ohio for glory. An awesome heavenly spectacle.

But sometime later that same summer night in another part of our world another thunderstorm was equally awesome…and fearsomely dangerous. We have yet to find out the sudden and fatal demise of an Air France flight from Rio to Paris. Just dropped out of the sky: supposedly smashed to pieces by an updraft of 100 mph winds and terrible thunder and lightning.

An awesome spectacle….a fearsome danger….which one? One or the other, both at the same time?

Psalm 29 is about that. Samuel Terrien: the song of the God of the seven thunders. If you’ve been caught in such a terrifying time as thunder you know. ML: turning point help me and I’ll become a monk. He was, and he did…and we are part of that story.

The subject here is God all along. Yahweh who appears in the tumult of the elements and manifests his awesome glory.

Here could be a throwback to an ancient Phoenician song, one scholar says. The weather god. A pre-modern version of Jay Berschback or Bill Spencer. But there’s a deeper meaning in this it’s the name of Yahweh that’s most highly prominent. Suggesting a rejection of pagan cults and the ability to sweep the territory clean.

Psalm 29 talks about a polarity of faith….a paradox….Buber: mysterium tremendum et fascinans. The joy in God and the fear of God. Sounds like being in the middle of thunderstorm to me.

Let’s look at the weather map…..what’s happening in your neck of the woods?

vv3-9….rainstorm on the move, comes off the Mediterranean Sea; on through Lebanon; into the southern desert. But not just any generic storm; here is reference to the primordial chaos of creation. That’s what Genesis is really about…God pushing back the water chaos into the boundaries of safety, nurture and peace. This is real intelligent design.

The Bible claims that it’s Yahweh who is powerfully at work to subdue the storm and overcome disorder.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that NPR plays “Stormy Weather” when they do the stock market report. We seem to be caught up and stuck in a downpour of lousy weather. For many of us lightning has struck with a powerful vengeance. Do you define your life by the financial disaster or impending doom you sense in your 401k? Does your present circumstance define your ability to see anything but immediate concerns? Is “Stormy Weather” your life’s theme song? Think of the storm unleashing up in Detroit right now.

I’ve got a Facebook friend who is a doctor missionary over in Ethiopia, along with his wife and kids. Occasionally I check out their website and blog. Talk about a perpetual downpour of bad luck, and there’s been an ongoing drought for years there. They try hard but at almost every turn some government inefficiency or corruption moves to thwart their efforts of medical healing and Christian evangelism.

They just got a big container of stuff….supplies, medicine…clothes. Now the customs office says it’s illegal contraband…and burned all the clothes……in sight of naked kids. And still Harry and Stephanie press onward. They just won’t sing “Stormy Weather.” Why not? Wouldn’t you? Sounds like Haiti, too, BTW.

Something very interesting happens in Psalm 29—in fact something interesting and arresting is always happening when you read the Bible. That’s why most people don’t read it….much too dangerous….kind of like a weather front ripping over the landscape.

Willimon: the Bible is God’s attempt to wrestle control from us.

Psalm 29 Seven times “the voice of Yahweh.” Qol Yahweh. It’s onomatopoeia. What? Got to remember—reading Bible also means paying attention to the style and grammar.

It’s the powerful voice of God the moves decisively and forcefully to undo the old order of things and tame chaos. Old order? The way you and I live day to day….the assumptions we make, the prejudices we enjoy, the resentments we relish, the never ending complaining some of us are so good at.

Yahweh is more powerful than all that resists God….which just might include you on the list….perhaps me too.

This is a unique piece of biblical literature….a special song. There’s no reference to the Exodus or to any of the special memories of the Jewish people. This psalm speaks about order in a way that overrules all anxiety about life. And anxiety, remember, is the biggest contagious disease in the human species. Quite simply this psalm says: God is God and you ain’t. Sovereignty.

But it’s a song remember. That’s important. For the very act of singing is itself a practice of that new order of God. Barth: to fold the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.

Have you ever thought of Sunday worship, this thing we do here every Sunday, as the beginning of an uprising? Just for fun—what are you thinking about right now, this very moments? About being part of an uprising? Are you mentally running through the to-do list for later? What most churches call “worship” is in reality not even on God’s radar. It was Yahweh, remember, who said: I really don’t care much for the noise of your solemn assemblies.

Psalm 29 is an Enthronement Psalm…a liturgical song for the acclamation that God is in charge and won’t be needing your help today. It’s liturgy—worship—that is so revolutionary. Maybe we need to rethink this whole worship idea. It’s not really about this one hour on Sunday; but what you do the rest of the week as you acknowledge that there’s only one God and one King. That that God is about re-ordering the world according to his design.

Decades ago JB Philips Your God is Too Small. Is yours? Maybe that’s why you’re still stuck in the same old groove of “Stormy Weather.” What we all need is a good lightning bolt to the seat of our pants to get about the business of real worship.

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