Year A – Easter Day – Psalm 118

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; *  his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel now proclaim, *  “His mercy endures for ever. “The LORD is my strength and my song, *  and he has become my salvation. There is a sound of exultation and victory *  in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! *  the right hand of the LORD is exalted!  the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!” I shall not die, but live, *  and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has punished me sorely, *  but he did not hand me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; *  I will enter them;  I will offer thanks to the LORD. “This is the gate of the LORD; *  he who is righteous may enter.” I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *  and have become my salvation. The same stone which the builders rejected *  has become the chief cornerstone. This is the LORD’S doing, *  and it is marvelous in our eyes. On this day the LORD has acted; *  we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Summary – This Psalm was sung by travelers coming to Jerusalem to worship (after the exile). It focuses upon the goodness of the Lord for those entering into His presence in His House. It is used by worshipers on the original Palm Sunday and since then in the Church to mark this time. Psalms 118:25–26 – “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” This Psalm includes some marvelous prophetic words that Jesus cited in the temple area during Holy Week. Jesus was the chief cornerstone, but the builders rejected Him. Yet through this rejection, God has acted.

Insight – The latter verses in the Psalm make it clear that God was doing something marvelous by the rejection of Jesus. The rejection of the chief cornerstone, means the building will be rebuilt. The religious leaders of Jerusalem in the first century rejected Jesus as the cornerstone of the holy temple of God. They were trying to build a different building. Their foundation was their works done in self-righteousness, their dead rites, and their political collusion. They white-washed tombs filled with dead men’s bones. Their unrighteousness becomes clearer and clearer as they successfully plot the murder of Jesus. When Jesus went to the temple in fulfillment of Psalm 118, He announced in the words of Jeremiah 7, this temple would be no place of refuge for them. Not one stone would be left standing on the other. Jesus was intent on building another house, another temple, the Church from all nations. 1Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Child’s Catechism – Who is Jesus? Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s holy temple, his Church.
Discussion – From your knowledge of history, why do you think God let Jerusalem’s temple be destroyed in 70 A.D.?

Prayer – Almighty God our heavenly Father, we give you praise because you sent Jesus as the chief cornerstone of your new holy temple, your Church. Grant that we may be aligned with Him purposes and His will so that we may ever please you in service in your house. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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Year A – Palm Sunday – Psalm 118

Psalms 118:1–2, 19–29  – O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!   2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.   20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we beseech you, give us success! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.  28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you.  29 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Summary – Psalm 118 was used by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles after the exile. It calls worshipers to acknowledge the goodness of their Covenant Lord. The worshiper desires to enter into the gates of God’s house (temple). Then in the verses 22ff there is a turn toward Messianic prophecy. The builders rejected the chief cornerstone and yet it is the Lord’s doing. This must have been puzzling for worshipers anticipating Christ, but now it is crystal clear. This is the day the Lord made – the day of Christ’s rejection. The Psalm foreshadows Palm Sunday – Bind the procession with branches to the altar. Christ Himself entered into Jerusalem like a pilgrim with a festal procession with branches and then was rejected as the chief cornerstone. Through this God will save his people. O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.

Insight (from Jared McNabb) – This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. This event calls to mind that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey the crowds were praising Jesus with the words from this Psalm, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt 21:9). Later on in Matthew 21, Jesus quotes from verse 22 of this Psalm and applied it to himself. Christ was the stone that was rejected by the people, and he went to the cross. But his work on the cross was not defeat, but actually the work of the very foundation of the House of God, laying the cornerstone. The cornerstone of the building was the most important stone in constructing a building; it was foundational. Christ’s work on the cross has laid the foundation for our salvation.  What looked like rejection and defeat was really the cornerstone for history and our lives.  And THIS, “it is marvelous in our eyes! Let us rejoice and be glad!”

Child’s Catechism – How is Jesus described in this Psalm? Jesus is described as the chief cornerstone.

Discussion – In what ways is Christ the cornerstone of history? In what ways is Christ the cornerstone of your life?

Prayer – O Lord, You are our Rock, our Cornerstone, and we are thanking You for building the foundation of the Church and our salvation with Your own sacrifice of rejection, torture and death. Forgive our forgetfulness of this foundation and make us ever mindful: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Amen.

Year A – Lent 5 – Psalm 130

Psalms 130 – A Song of Ascents. 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. 2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! 3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. 8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Summary – Psalm 130 is a song of Ascents which were sung by those journeying to worship in Jerusalem to celebrate annual festivals. The Psalmist cries out to the Lord, recognizing that no one can stand on their own righteousness in God’s presence. But He is rich in forgiveness. So the Psalmist waits for the Lord. Israel is to hope in the Lord because God will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

Insight – The Psalms teach us the full range of prayer, praise and even complaints that we may properly express to God, not only individually, but corporately. In Psalm 130 we have a call for God’s presence along with a recognition of our unworthiness (“If You should mark iniquities . . .”). We are sinners and saints at the same time. We have no inherent righteousness whereby we can demand a Holy God’s presence and power in our lives. He forgives and now we see the full basis for that forgiveness through Christ’s death and resurrection. Despite our natural unworthiness, it is right and good that we still call upon Him to be present. We should be those whose “souls wait for the Lord.” We need a thirst for God that is just as eager as those in the dark night of battle who await for new light and safety in the morning. The promise is that “with the Lord there is mercy” and “abundant redemption.” Do you believe this? Israel shall be redeemed and this will come through resurrection (see Ez. 37) which breaks into the cosmos through Christ. Easter is on its way!

Child’s Catechism – What does God do for His sinful people? He forgives their sins.

Discussion – Do you sense God’s abundant presence in your life now or are you awaiting more of His presence like the Psalmist?

Prayer – O Lord, we ask boldly for Your presence in our lives. Forgive our many sins, fill us with Your Spirit, and redeem us as we trust You and hope in Your redemption, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year A – Lent 4 – Psalm 23

 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

 

Summary – Psalm 23 is a beautiful poem which expresses the care of the Lord for his people with the well-known Shepherd/sheep relationship. It is a Psalm of David and calls to mind a young man who came to know God while tending the flock. Just as David was a good shepherd, nourishing and protecting the flock, so the Lord was The Good Shepherd (1 Samuel 17:34ff).  This is one of the most memorable passages in Scripture and has been the comfort of God’s people for over 3000 years. It explains God’s care for us, to lead us, to restore us, to be with us through the darkness, to strengthen with rod and staff, to prepare a table, to anoint us, to cause goodness and mercy to follow us – forever. When God looked on David’s heart, by His grace, David was the kind of believer that placed His trust in Yahweh as Shepherd of His people. This caused David to sing and play psalms of praise to his Lord.

Insight – Psalm 23 is the best known Psalm in the world. It is a tremendous comfort. The first five words, like five smooth stones can bring down the giants of self-condemnation and lack of assurance.

The LORD is my shepherd. That is The one and only Almighty God is the One who cares for me.

The LORD is my shepherd. He is not a vague deity. He is the Covenant Lord (Yahweh) of Israel, a covenant keeping God who has committed Himself to the salvation of His people.

The LORD is my shepherd. Now He IS and ever will be at any time I call upon Him, the only Covenant Lord who is my shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd. He is certainly the Covenant Lord and Savior of His people and unlimited in His power to save, but I confess now that He is MY personal Shepherd who cares for me.

The LORD is my shepherd. Not only is He the Almighty God and Savior, but He saves me not as a Tyrant, but as a loving Shepherd. So I can claim boldly, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

Children’s Catechism – Who is the Lord? The Lord is my Shepherd.

Discussion – Have you learned Psalm 23 by heart? If not can you at least learn the first five words? Which one of these words is most important for you?

Prayer – 
Through Christ you make us a new creation, O God, 
for with Him we pass from sin to the new life of grace.
 Accept our prayers in the warm embrace of your compassion,
and welcome all people to the festive banquet of your table,
 where we may rejoice in your love and celebrate the inheritance you have given to us. 
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year A – Lent 3 – Psalm 95

Psalms 95:1–11 – O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! 8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.” 11 Therefore in my anger I swore, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Summary – The event in Exodus 17 becomes part of the living memory of God’s people in Psalm 95. This Psalm begins with a call to worship in God’s presence, to thank Him and praise Him with song. He is the Maker of the world so we should worship Him on bended knee. But even more, He is our Shepherd and we are the sheep of His hand. This means that our Shepherd feeds and cares for us by His hand. The Psalm ends acknowledging Israel’s failure as they grumbled and showed hard hearts at Meribah and Massah in the wilderness. The consequence is that many did not enter into their rest from the wilderness.

Insight – Psalm 95 turns the experience of the Israelites (Ex. 17) into a song. In hard episodes in life we want to completely wash them from our memories. This is especially so in terms of sinful and shameful things we have done. Israel did not get to sweep their sin “under the rug.” Many American textbooks revise our national history to make us look noble and valiant, but it was not so with Israel. Israel’s failures were written into their history and their hymns. True worship arises from truth. Proper worship arises not only from knowing God’s power and love, but from reflecting on our failures. Let us shout to the “Rock of our salvation,” while also know that we must not harden our hearts.  In this anthem, they recognize the power of God their “Maker” over all the earth and that they were His sheep which He cared for, the very thing they forgot in their grumbling.

Child’s Catechism – Why should we make a joyful noise? Because God is our maker and our Shepherd.

Question to Consider – If you were to write a song that recounted your disobedience, what would it say and where did it happen?

Prayer – [BCP Collect for Purity] Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Year A – Epiphany 7 – Psalm 119:33-40

Psalms 119:33–40 –  Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. 38 Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you. 39 Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good. 40 See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.

Summary – Many students of the Bible know that Psalm 119, like a few other Psalms, is set as an acrostic. So the first 8 verses begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph), then the next 8 verses begin with the second letter (beth), etc. In order to capture this, below is a paraphrase of these verses, using the English alphabet (now we are up to the letter E) as a reference point:

Educate me, O Lord, in the way of Thy statutes, And I shall observe it to the end.
Enlighten my understanding, that I may observe Thy law, And keep it with all my heart.
Eagerly cause me to walk in the path of Thy commandments, For I delight in it.
Encourage my heart with Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.
Extinguish my desire to gaze at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways.
Establish Thy word to Thy servant, As that which produces reverence for Thee.
Exonerate me from dreaded reproach, For Thine ordinances are good.
Even now, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness.

Discussion – Why does this Psalm move through the alphabet? Why does it go from “A to Z”?

Prayer – †Collect for Seven Sunday after Epiphany – O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing; Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Year A – Epiphany 3 – Psalm 27

Psalms 27:1, 4–9 –  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   4 One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.   5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.   6 Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.   7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me! 8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, LORD, do I seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!

Summary – In this powerful and poetic psalm, David calls on the Lord for salvation from His foes, faithfully recognizing that Yahweh is the only help on which to rely.  The life and times of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18-20 read in conjunction with Psalm 27 (especially in light of vs 6 which connects Yahweh’s mercy on Hezekiah to the Davidic line) forms an interesting parallel.  Hezekiah, in the face of the massive horde of Sennacherib, stood firm believing that the Lord is his stronghold and he needed to fear no one.  “Though an army encamped” (vs 3) against Hezekiah, he did not fear, and the Angel of the Lord struck down the army overnight!  Thus, Hezekiah’s head was “lifted up above [his] enemies” (vs 6, cf. 2 Chron 32:23).  Then when Hezekiah was mortally ill (2 Kgs 20:1-6) his prayer to Yahweh (“I have walked before you in faithfulness”) was like David’s in verse 8, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”  In the final verse, David turns his driving poetry to the reader.  Rather than focusing on his personal experience, he admonishes the reader to wait for the Lord, be strong, and take courage.

Insight – There are two things that frighten me badly:  cornfields at night, and criticism from other people.  Sometimes it can seem like “an army is encamped against me” if people disagree.  What frightens you?  One thing we all have in common is fear, and King David was no different.  But rather than shrinking back in fear when his enemies were all around him, he called on God to save him.  His prayer was a mixture of trust in God’s promises and supplication to God’s goodness and faithfulness.  Ultimately, our greatest accuser can be our own hearts, telling us we are sinners who are un-save-able.  But with David, let us say that because God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:19-22), and has sent Jesus to take on our sin, we will be confident, knowing that we will look on the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Child Catechism – Who is your light and salvation?  The Lord.

Discussion – List the problems David is dealing with in Psalm 27 (examples: evildoers and war).  What are some ways God overcomes those problems?

Prayer – O Lord, our stronghold, hide us we pray in Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may hold our head up high knowing our acceptance surely.  We know that You have powerfully saved Your people and we believe that You will continue to do so.  Teach us Your ways and set us on a straight path so that the natural desires that war within us would be defeated.  We believe that we will see Your goodness throughout our lives and will wait for You, knowing that it is your mighty arm that fights for us.  Through Christ,  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year A – Epiphany 2 – Psalm 40:1-11

Psalms 40 – To the leader. Of David. A Psalm. 1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.   4 Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. 5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.   6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7 Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”   9 I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. 10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.   11 Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.

Summary – This Psalm speaks of the deliverance of David. God heard the cry of David even though he was in a slimy pit. God set him on firm ground. God provided security, pictured in very concrete terms. His feet are now on a rock, rather than in a swamp or bog of mud. This deliverance evokes a song of praise which will call others to such praise. Those who worship the true God will be blessed. God does not require sacrifices, but a willingness to obey Him. God desires those who delight to do His will. The Psalmist has given praise in the congregation of Yahweh’s deliverance and pleads that He will not withhold His mercy, but continue to give covenant love and faithfulness forever.

Insight – This Psalm is applied to Christ in Heb. 10:9. Christ is the obedient worshiper who comes to do the will of the Father. The words of this Psalm easily overlap with the Servant Song of Isaiah 53 in which it is said, “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days” (Isaiah 53:10). This is recalled in Philippians 2:8, when it is explained that Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” Such was the obedience of Jesus, the One who came to do the will of the Father.

Discussion – Given the rigorous system of sacrifices in the Old Testament, why does this Psalm say that God does not require such sacrifices?

Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we thank you for the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus the Lord, who came in obedience to suffer death on a cross, that we might have life. Grant that we who are called into His body, the Church, may walk in the same obedience, yielding our wills to His in order to glorify Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

Year A – Epiphany – Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Psalms 72:1–7, 10–14 – Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. 2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. 3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. 4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.   5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. 6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. 7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.   10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts. 11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.   12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. 13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. 14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Summary – Psalm 72 is a messianic Psalm and  a Psalm of David which looks to Solomon in the near future as a type of the Ultimate “King’s Son” (vs 1).  This Son will judge people righteously, and we recall the story of Solomon and the two women arguing over the child (1 Kings 3:16ff).  This Son will have dominion “from sea to sea” (vs 8), and Solomon indeed ruled all the land from the “River” to the sea (1 Kings 4:20ff), the allotted portion of Israel.  This Son would receive gifts from the “Kings of Sheba” (vs 10), and the “gold of Sheba will be given to him” (vs 15).  We remember the Queen of Sheba’s visit of course, in which she gave Solomon 120 talents of gold (1 Kings 10:10).  Solomon was however, as a typological shadow of Christ who was to come, an imperfect fulfillment of this Psalm.  Only Christ could be feared “as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations” (vs 5).  Only Christ’s Kingdom can encompass the whole earth (vs. 8) and have “all kings” bow before Him (vs 11).  Only Christ could save “souls” (vs 13).  The final refrain of the Psalm in vss. 18-19 indeed points to the Lord alone as the doer of “wondrous things.”  Solomon was the second step in the line of David’s throne and kingship.  But we see here again, like we saw in Psalm 122 last week, that David’s throne came with an inherent aspect of longevity and eternality.  Christ the true Son of David is the ultimate fulfillment of that great line.

Insight – Does you ever feel like the world is ignoring God?  People try to take the meaning of Christmas away, and ignore Jesus’ coming, but King David tells us about the “king’s Son” who is expected.  This son of the King will become king and will be followed forever.  He was promised to be like rain that waters the earth, and would bring righteousness and peace.  As we look forward to Christmas, this promise about Jesus’ coming should give us great hope!  Jesus is “living water” (John 4:10) who “waters” those who have faith in Him, and the night of His birth, angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).  Though many people ignore the true King Jesus, His kingdom is everlasting and will finally submit all nations to it and His light shines in the world.

Child Catechism – How long will Jesus’ kingdom last?  Forever.

Discussion – How does Jesus “bring justice to the poor of the people”?  How does He “save the children of the needy”?

Prayer – Father God, God of Israel, who only does wondrous things, blessed be your glorious name forever.  This Advent season we earnestly pray that the whole earth be filled with your glory.  Amen.