Monday 18 June 2012

Bible Book:

your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens." (v. 2)

Psalm 89:1-18 Monday 18 June 2012


Psalm 89 functions as a bookend, drawing to a close the thirdbook of the psalter. As the last word in this collection, it hasparticular importance, and can be seen as a comment on all thepsalms assembled so far. One of the longest of the psalms, Psalm 89begins by praising God's creative power (verses 1-2) and givingthanks for the special care God has shown towards David (verses3-4). But it ends on a note of bitter complaint (verse 38-52),accusing God of no longer caring. Like so many other psalms, it isa conversation - an argument, even - with God.

The psalm celebrates God's saving activity which makes space forlife to flourish. God overcomes chaos and establishes afar-reaching rule, over the heavens and earth, from north to south,over land and sea. In recognition of God's reign, even themountains, Tabor to the south and Hermon to the north, sing praises(verse 12).

The image of Rahab, crushed like a carcass (verse 10), may atfirst glance appear odd or insignificant, but repeated use ofcertain names within the biblical tradition indicates theirimportance. Rahab is firstly a sea monster, described in the mythictales of this region. And later the name comes to symbolise the Seaof Reeds, through which the people of Israel fled from slavery (Exodus14). And yet this name is also a thread leading back to thestory of Rahab, the woman who bartered with the Israelites for herand her family's lives (Joshua2). Through this name, then, the psalm speaks of how the landemerges from the waters, and of the ebb and flow of the differentgroups who settle there.

The whole psalm is framed by the concept of God's steadfast loveand faithfulness, on which God's power rests (verses 13-14). Thesetwo words, often found together, suggest a constancy of care. It isthese qualities that make God praise-able, and in fact the psalm isan extended discussion as to whether God has remained faithful, andtherefore worthy of praise.

To Ponder

What aspects of nature speak to you most clearlyand persistently of God's power, wonder, and care?

How have you experienced God's steadfast love inyour own life? And how might you share this experience withothers?

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