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Daily Bible Readings and Reflections for the Week of May 17, 2020

Saturday, May 24, 2020
Numbers 11:16-29

I will come down and talk with you there; and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself. And say to the people: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wailed in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “If only we had meat to eat! Surely it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected the Lord who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’ But Moses said, ‘The people I am with number six hundred thousand on foot; and you say, “I will give them meat, that they may eat for a whole month”! Are there enough flocks and herds to slaughter for them? Are there enough fish in the sea to catch for them?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’

So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.

Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, ‘My lord Moses, stop them!’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’

+ + +

Genesis and Exodus tend to get a lot of press, but I find that Leviticus and Numbers are often dismissed as collections of irrelevant regulations and records. (I mean, one of them is literally called “Numbers.) However, during my Master of Divinity studies at Trinity College I took a class from Professor Walter Deller that took the book of Numbers and used it as a lens through which we looked at congregational leadership and dynamics. What better story to learn from than the wanderings of the Hebrews in the desert, given the Church’s present sojourn in an often harsh, desert-like cultural climate? It was an eye-opening experience that revealed how Bible study can truly shine a light on our present circumstances.

In today’s vignette we find an exhausted Moses, leading a people that has become sick of the mysterious heavenly manna upon which they’ve been feeding. He learns that God will be sending quail for them to eat, which on one hand addresses the people’s desires. On the other hand, they will eat it “until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you;” Sometimes we learn the hard way that our appetites aren’t always the wisest guides to life.

The story moves on from there and we have the description of two incidences of God’s Spirit being shared among others, as a way of lifting some of the burden of leadership off of Moses. Interestingly, the story says that God took “some of the spirit that was on him [Moses] and put it on the seventy elders. Perhaps this is a way of symbolizing how groups need to find ways, perhaps in ritual, to show that they assent to authority. This isn’t random spiritual power, but a sharing in Moses’ God-given authority. Some churches do this in ceremonies of prayer and commissioning for new leaders. The liturgist and writer Richard Giles goes even farther, and, when a person reads scripture or leads prayers in the liturgical service, he puts his stole over their shoulders, as a sign that they are sharing in the same ministry. (I find this kind of clumsy, and I fear it could be interpreted in a way that is the opposite of his intention — as more authoritarian — but his idea is to convey that we share in the same Spirit.)

Today’s story ends with a complaint from Moses’s assistant, Joshua, that two random people, more on the periphery, have evidently been granted the same spiritual gifts as the seventy ‘official’ elders. Moses displays maturity and self-confidence in not clamping down on them. Yet it seems necessary that, even if not ritualized in a ceremony, he gives his OK to Eldad and Medad’s prophesying. The success of the group’s journey is not just dependent on leadership being shared out by a few more people, but in the whole community having a more solid understanding of their common mission. “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets,” cries Moses. “Would that 100% of the people share the burden of responsibility!”

[Matthew Kieswetter]

Friday, May 22, 2020
Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

+++++

The Letter to the Ephesians is another of the Letters attributed to St. Paul in the New Testament that majority scholarly opinion holds is not actually from Paul. The majority scholarly opinion is also that this letter might have come down to us via the church at Ephesus, but that the actual distribution in the 1st century was to most or all the Pauline churches in Asia Minor. At the time of writing, these churches had matured enough that there were factions and dissension, which is hinted at in verses 1-2, and elsewhere in the Letter. This causes scholars to date Ephesians to the period 70-100 C.E., most likely in the 90s. The author is thought to be a student or disciple of Paul, very familiar with Paul’s thought and theology, and this widely distributed Letter is best understood as a summary of Paul’s teachings, or as a theological treatise, or a meditation about “Christ and the Church”. Or it can be read as a baptismal homily, or even as an introduction to all of Paul’s Letters. (And, of course, none of these alternatives are mutually exclusive.)

Martin Luther became an Augustinian monk in fulfillment of a vow made in terror at the thought of dying without having earned salvation when he was nearly struck by lightning. Initially his monastic life was one of continual self-deprivation in order to “earn” salvation, and he writes of this period of life, “I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul.” His superior in the Augustinians urged Luther away from continual reflection upon his sins and toward the merits of Christ, and that true repentance does not involve self-inflicted penances and punishments but rather a change of heart. Ephesians 2:8-10; “… by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life”, became central to Luther’s thinking, and central to his theological thesis that justification/salvation is by God’s grace alone and only, not by anything we or anyone can do, or avoid doing.

Luther wrote that John 3:16 (God so loved the world …”) is the entire Gospel in miniature. A case could be made that Ephesians 2:8-9 is all of Paul’s theology (and Luther’s!) in a nutshell. Our justification, our being made “right” with God is entirely God’s work; there is nothing we can do or avoid doing to change that. Our salvation, our “entry ticket” to eternal life is entirely by grace, a free and unearned gift from God. It is not earned by us doing good works, or heroically avoiding bad deeds. That image we might have of our page in a heavenly ledger book, with our bad deeds listed on the left, and our good works on the right, and the notion that when our life ends we’d better have a longer column on the right is just that, an image and a notion. The ledger does not exist.

What then of good works? Why do we still pray, meditate, confess our sins, give to charity, do the work of ministry, help others selflessly, try to make our world a better place? If God gives us our salvation by grace alone, a free gift, not in return for our good works, why do we still want to please God with what we do? The usual answer is of course that in return for God’s gift of salvation to us, we want to show our appreciation by doing what God asks of us, which is to love God, and to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Loving God, loving neighbor is our response, or thank-you to God, not payment for his gift! I could stop here, and that might be a good enough answer.

But I can tease out a little more meaning from our text. Another answer to why we do good works might be, we can’t help ourselves! Ephesians 2:10 says it, “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” God has created us humans to be, by nature, Christ-like, to want to do good works, to want to love our neighbor as ourselves. We were created, made, for a Christ-like way of life.

[I realize that I am ignoring the obvious existence of human persons whose way of life is conspicuously non-Christlike, and our own failure to be always Christ-like. To explore the nature and existence of evil would take far more text than I can allow myself. But in short, just like salvation by grace, free gift, so is our Christ-like way of life a gift. And gifts, once given, belong entirely to the recipient; they can be thrown away without ever using them, they can be put away on a shelf and forgotten, they can be used for a short time and then abandoned, or they can be used and enjoyed enthusiastically. The gifts of God are no different. And free will is also something that God has given us, to use, and misuse.]

[Gerry Mueller]

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Daniel 7:9-14

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgement,
and the books were opened.

I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.

+ + +

Today is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate the resurrected Jesus’ return to the very heart of God. It is a radical notion, of the betrayed, rejected, executed criminal becomes, to echo Daniel, one with everlasting power. Remembering, though, that this is still the benevolent Son of Man who wandered the countryside healing the sick and dining with the despised, we are assured that his reign is one worth trusting. The one who brought healing to his own society is the one who hears us when we pray today.

“To intercede is to bear others on the heart in God’s presence,” wrote former Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey. “When however we do this ‘in the name of Jesus’ we learn to bend our wantings to our glimpses of the divine will. Intercession thus becomes not the bombardment of God with requests so much as the bringing of our desires within the stream of God’s own compassion.”*

Following a fairly recent ecumenical movement from the UK called “Thy Kingdom Come” we are specially encouraged between now and Pentecost to offer prayers for the Church and for people to open their lives to Jesus. (Various resources are found online at https://www.thykingdomcome.global/) As Archbishop Ramsey counsels, however, this isn’t about sending up our grocery list to God so much as offering ourselves and our world (which is also what we do in the Eucharist), to be transformed into what God would make us.

[Matthew Kieswetter]

* “Be Still and Know: A Study in the Life of Prayer.” (Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1982, 1993), 58.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Revelation 5:1-14

Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.’

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honour and glory and blessing!’

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,

‘To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might
for ever and ever!’

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the elders fell down and worshipped.

+ + +

A few days ago Leslie and I spent several hours in our yard. It was a weird combination of spending a lot of time and energy, still having much to do, and yet feeling like we hadn’t accomplished much. She commented that upon buying a house, “I didn’t think I’d have to garden unless I actually wanted to, not just to keep things looking decent.” Yesterday I picked up a raspberry plant we had ordered online, and the garden centre out in the New Dundee area was hopping (and very few people seemed to be using the pickup system I was, though in the end I still had to walk all the way through the greenhouse to pick up my plant). Even in these precarious times, there is something fundamental about gardening, that nothing will keep us from it, I guess.

What does all this have to do with anything? Well, these three days before Ascension Day are called Rogation Days. They had somewhat gone out of practice in years past, but our growing appreciation of our relationship with the environment has helped to bring them back into our consciousness. The Feast of the Ascension, with an eye on the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts, is about Jesus leaving the earth and once again joining with the Father (ascending to be at God’s right hand, if you will; though the Revelation reading today has the Lamb at the centre of the throne!) What’s important about Ascension isn’t that Jesus can leap tall buildings in a single bound, but that, in returning to God, Jesus brings with him the experiences and needs of humanity — us. We believe that at the heart of God is the divine Logos who is also the one who came to dwell among us: the Word made flesh, the Son of Man, the Human One, the resurrected Jesus who still bears the marks of the cross. Our prayers are heard by one who not only knows our needs, but knows WHY they are our needs. Knows the predicament we find ourselves in. Something to remember in this time of fear and grief.

That’s Ascension, but what of these three earlier days? Well, appreciating Jesus’ role in intercession, it made sense to liturgically highlight how God is attentive to our prayers. Given the season — springtime, the time of planting — Rogation Days became associated specifically with prayers for a successful crop — and in an age without warehouses full of canned corn and Spam, the very survival of the people was dependant on this. These prayers were often accompanied by processions through the countryside, which might seem foreign to our experience, but think of it as a sort of embodied, walking prayer. (And humourously, they used it as an opportunity to remind one another of where one person’s land ended, and another’s began. To hit the message home, children were jokingly thrown into ditches and ponds at these boundary points.) Again, this might seem a bit strange to us, but think of it as underlining how we are called to be good neighbours. Your wellbeing and my wellbeing are interconnected. (Something we have learned anew in the last couple of months.)

So, on this last of the Rogation Days, I invite you to pray. Pray for our green and blue earth, and pray for our world, marked at this time by sickness and loneliness. Pray the Church, that it would be reborn through the fires of this pandemic. Pray for the community gardens at St. Andrew’s, that they would be a source of food, learning, and food security. And pray remembering that the one who hears our prayers is the one who, again and again, told stories about God’s Reign, using the language of planting, growth, and harvesting. What will your garden, the birds, and our parks say to you about God’s Kingdom?

[Matthew Kieswetter]

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
1 Timothy 2:1-6

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For
there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all
—this was attested at the right time.

+++++

The two Letters to Timothy and the Letter to Titus are collectively called the “Pastoral Letters”, as they chiefly concern themselves with pastoral practices in the developing “Pauline” churches, those founded by Paul during his missionary journeys in Asia Minor. Disagreement about the true “Gospel” as proclaimed by Paul has surfaced in these churches, and this has led to divergence of practice in worship by various factions, and these Letters attempt to instruct on correct doctrine and practice. Scholars agree that these three Letters were most likely from the same author, and the majority consensus is that the author was not Paul, but a disciple of Paul who was remarkably familiar with Paul’s work and thought. This is not the place to detail the reasoning that leads scholars to this conclusion, but it is worth noting that one argument is that while Paul, in the Letters that are unquestionably his, never shirks from engaging his opponents in detailed and well-reasoned theological argument, the author of these Letters simply upbraids his opponents and accuses them of failing in public respectability, that is, (over) uses the “ad hominem” argument.

From information in these Letters about church “order”, that is, church leadership structure, they have been dated to the mid-80’s C.E. (Paul most likely died in the mid-60’s C.E.) That dating makes it likely that the factions the author is writing against were early forms of “gnosticism”, that is groups who argued that their knowledge of the supposed “true” faith made them special, better than others who didn’t subscribe to these beliefs, and that they possessed special knowledge of what one had to believe and how one had to act in order to be “saved” by Jesus Christ. Some of these gnostic (special knowledge) theologies got to be quite detailed and intricate, and there is great temptation for an arcane theology wonk like me to go down the rabbit hole of exploring what the author of the Pastoral Letters might be arguing against, and demonstrating why it is wrong. I’d find that fun; you, probably not so much.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the “catholicity” or universality of the message to be found in these Letters, and specifically this passage. In Bibles that give headings to passages that form a unit, this one is most often called something like “Instructions concerning Prayer”, and indeed it is that. But what strikes me most abut this passage is how inclusive it is. Prayers are to made for “everyone”; including leaders, the kings being referred to being the Roman emperor, and local high officials (likely appointed by the Romans), whose actions towards those praying were not always benign; the persecutions of Christians under Nero would not have been forgotten, and those under Domitian might have been contemporary (depending on the dating of these Letters). The object of prayer was “so that [the community] may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity”. God desires “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. And there is one God, for “everyone”, one mediator (Christ) for everyone, who died for “all”.

We modern Christians sometimes fall, into what I might call semi-gnostic thinking, that somehow being a Christian is difficult, that it requires effort and study. We think that praying, especially public praying, requires particular knowledge and skills. Some church groups, denominations or intra-denominational factions still engage in conflict with others over the “true” understanding of what it means to be Christian, or “Church”, and of course insist they are the ones in possession of the only “truth”. And, I confess, I sometimes fall into that trap of arrogance, thinking I know better or more of what is needed for “true” Christianity. Or, at times I know myself to be far too intellectual about my faith practices (and theories); making difficult what should be, after all, as simple as breathing. That’s when a passage such as this one calls me back to simplicity; God does not want to make serving God difficult, that it is the simplest thing there is.

And that brings me to a piece of art, the opening song of Leonard Bernstein’s musical theatre and dance piece “Mass”. Mass had a profound impact on me when I first saw it, and still does when I occasionally listen to it. Bernstein was a Jew, and he is a good illustration of how someone not from one’s own faith tradition can give a profound insight into its beliefs, practices, and central act of worship.
Let me share that “Introit” with you; read it slowly, meditate on it, and let it sink in. And/or listen to it here: https://youtu.be/r5ObnqZ3yxA Sing God a simple song:
Lauda, Laudē
Make it up as you go along:
Lauda, Laudē
Sing like you like to sing.
God loves all simple things,
For God is the simplest of all,
For God is the simplest of all.

I will sing the Lord a new song
To praise Him, to bless Him, to bless the Lord.
I will sing His praises while I live
All of my days.

Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
Blessed is the man who praises Him.
Lauda, Lauda, Laudē
And walks in His ways.

I will lift up my eyes
To the hills from whence comes my help.
I will lift up my voice to the Lord
Singing Lauda, Laudē.

For the Lord is my shade,
Is the shade upon my right hand,
And the sun shall not smite me by day
Nor the moon by night.

Blessed is the man who loves the Lord,
Lauda, Lauda, Laudē,
And walks in His ways.
Lauda, Lauda, Laudē,
Lauda, Lauda di da di day.
All of my days.

[Gerry Mueller]

Monday, May 18, 2020
Deuteronomy 8:1-10

(God’s Gracious Dealings)
8This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. 3He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. 5Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. 6Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord.

+ + +

In the New Revised Standard Version of the bible, today’s scripture is subtitled “God’s Gracious Dealings,” but contrasting these gentle words, the first sentence is unmistakably an order: All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do (v 1). There is no misinterpretation — the message that follows must be followed. Yet how does such an unequivocal command match the words in the hope-filled subtitle?

Before reviewing the scripture, let us draw an example from current news. Although COVID-19 continues infecting, news stories are ripe with examples of active and willful disobedience regarding the very guidelines developed as protections. So, here we have two choices; one: obey, stay healthy, and help our community to remain healthy, or two: disobey, wait for a resurgence of the virus, and cope again with illness and death. Many of us see a crystal-clear choice — obey and reap the rewards of health and life; others only perceive an authoritarian, freedom-cramping constraint.

Let us now return to scripture. God tells (He does not ask) us to obey. Our obedience is to be one of careful consideration, done out of love for God, and we are to ponder in our hearts the obedience that is requested. To give us confidence in our obedience, God reminds us that He guided His people through the wilderness, He fed and clothed them, and He brought them to safety. In reminding us of the past, He gives us confidence for the future: our reward for obedience will be a “good land,” a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, (vs 8, 9).

Today’s scripture teaches that faithful obedience is not authoritarianism, but the exact opposite. Obedience is remembering goodness, careful considering, heartfelt pondering, and acquiescing to the God of all — a God who wants to lead us out of the desert to a land in which we will lack nothing (v 9).
Let us pray for a heart willing to obey every Word of God, not just the ones that fit our own willingness.

[Katherine MacLean]

Sunday, May 17, 2020
Psalm 93

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days.

+ + +

I often try to imagine where a poet is located when she or he is speaking. Sometimes, it’s hard. Are they
alone? Are they sitting at a desk? Curled up in the bottom of a garden? With Psalm 93, I imagine the
singer standing on a shoreline, perhaps on a cliff, overlooking the sea. Below waves rise up and crash.
The sound makes human conversation almost impossible. But it is the Lord’s voice in the waves, so
human voices are not needed.

So many times these days the voices of nature speak to us as we walk and as we listen to the sounds of
Springtime come upon us. This Spring I am re-learning how to listen.

The poetry in the Psalms often has an echo effect, lines and words repeated or rephrased in an echo
effect to build the image. And never is that more effective than in Psalm 93. The Lord is “robed in
majesty.” Again, he is “robed in majesty and armed with strength”. The idea of “strength” opens out
into “firm and secure”. And that becomes a “throne” lasting for “eternity”.

One image builds on the previous image to a final conclusion. And the entire two verses read like
heartfelt praise. Nothing is forced. Nothing is contrived. It’s great poetry and even better worship.
The same structure holds for verses three and four. Again, the wave image builds, and moves to a
crescendo on the idea of the Lord as mightier than powerful waves in the sea. The last two images,
statutes as pillars holding up the Lord’s house, and holiness as decorations are simply stated. There is
no build up, no poetic devices. As we get to these images, the idea of the Lord as strong, eternal and
just, has been well established.

So, when do I turn to Psalm 93? At times when the events around me in the world seem to be made of
shifting sand. Times like now, when the leaders of the world seem to have no moral compass and crash
from disaster to disaster, mostly of their own making, taking all of us with them. Psalm 93 reminds me
that the Lord is a firm place in the storm and has been there forever.

[Peter Mansell]