Scripture Song: Stronghold of Salvation (Psalm 28:8-9)

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Audio

The LORD is the strength of his people
The LORD is the strength of his people
The LORD is the strength of his people
He is a stronghold
Of salvation for His anointed.

(Hosanna!) Save, save your people
(Hosanna!) Bless your possession
(Hosanna!) Shep-, shepherd them
And carry them forever.

10-6-2017

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Advent Meditation: Psalm 61

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Unlike the provincial deities of the ancients, Yahweh is not limited by geography. David boldly prays—desperate, yes, but bold—”from the ends of the earth,” and even when his boldness outstrips his strength (“when my heart is without strength”) he is still heard. Neither Tarshish nor Nineveh is beyond the LORD’s reach or earshot.

David then prays the prayer God loves to hear: I can’t, but You can; You lead the way.

Lead me to a rock that is high above me,
for you have been a refuge for me,
a strong tower in the face of the enemy (61:2-3 CSB).

David can’t get to the rock himself; God must take him there. God alone has been a refuge and a strong tower. God is the rock higher than David. The next verse makes this even clearer:

I will dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge under the shelter of your wings (61:4 CSB).

The allusion in Psalm 57 is more explicit here: God’s tent is the tabernacle, and the shelter of His wings would be beneath the cherubim and the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies.

The connection between the rock and the tent, then, is this: David can’t go into the Holy of Holies himself. God must come to him and lead him there. That’s precisely what He has done in the Incarnation: Jesus has come as the Great High Priest in Melchizedek’s line to rend the curtain and lead us into the New Jerusalem—Revelation’s Holy of Holies.

David celebrates the “heritage” given to every God-fearer. What is this heritage? It’s the king’s own inheritance, for we are “heirs of God and coheirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 CSB)!

What king is this? The one whose “years span many generations,” who sits “enthroned before God forever” (61:6-7 CSB). This King who is God sits before God; the Word was with God and was God (John 1:1).

The King’s bodyguards are faithful love and truth. You have to go through them to get to Him. John also says that’s exactly how Jesus comes: full of grace and truth (John 1:17).

This King is Jesus, Emmanuel, the curtain-tearing High Priest who leads us into the shelter of the cherubim’s wings. This King is the one we serve, the one we sing of, and the one we sing to.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Do Not Be Afraid (Petrarchan Sonnet)

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The herald militant appeared in light
In Wesley’s erstwhile welkin o’er the fold;
The herders’ drowsy darkness now like gold
Shone with the glory of the Lord of Might.
They made to scatter in their dreadful fright,
But lo, the Heav’nly Gospel, long foretold
Was on the angel lips that blessèd night.
The Burning Ones who, blushing, ever fly
Before Him Who Is and Was and Will Be
Now march, their banner-glories are unfurled:
For Him, who viewed, must make the viewer die
Has come as chubby babe both held and seen;
The Virgin holds the Word who made the world.

12-7-2017

Something Borrowed (Petrarchan Sonnet)

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“I washed you with water, rinsed off your blood, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and provided you with fine leather sandals. I also wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your wrists and a necklace around your neck. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was made of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil. You became extremely beautiful and attained royalty. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor, which I had bestowed on you.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 16:9-14 CSB).

The wedding preparations underway:
The ugly wretch has found herself a groom,
Who, not repulsed by wretchedness assumed
Her ugliness for beauty in its place.
He bathed, anointed, dressed her fine and fair;
In her there was for wretchedness no room.
His kitchens fed her plates of finest food,
And she became a queen beyond compare.
Her beauty, not innate, imputed was;
Her royalty was not from kin or kith:
She had no heritage, no claim to throne.
Her groom told her His love was just because,
Perfection’s splendor was for her His gift.
“Forever, My beloved, you’re My own.”

12-6-2017

Fifty-nine (Cyhydedd hir)

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Rescue me from foes:
Ere dawn they arose
Their traps to enclose
Around me fast.

These men of bloodshed
And lies fill their heads
With plans of my death
No chance is passed.

Snarling, mangy curs
Come away the worse
For wear, for their purse
Emptied en masse.

LORD God of Armies,
My soul waits to see
You come in glory
To save at last.

You laugh at their schemes,
Yet they do not dream
That you would redeem
With fiery blast.

Empty stomachs growl
While they vainly prowl;
Unsatisfied scowls
They wear like masks.

But I gladly sing
The love of my King;
He to me strength brings,
Grace unsurpassed.

12-5-2017

Advent Meditation: Psalm 58

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This is from my journal meditation on Psalm 58. Psalm 58 is not a go-to passage for Advent, but perhaps it ought to be.

The world reels at the revelation of some new credible accusation of immorality or at the scope of injustice that still happens in our supposedly enlightened, evolved era. Slavery, rape, sexual assault, racism, and more all exist today and seem to thrive unabated. Christians are persecuted more than any other century in the Church’s history.

Rather than being on the “wrong side of history,” the Christian stands with the Judge of all the earth in the middle of history. It is not yet the end. Judgment will come one day, some day, but perhaps not today. It will still come, and that’s David’s foundation for Psalm 58.

Injustice is not a mirage nor misunderstanding; David refuses to be gaslighted by Satan or the wicked (58:1-2). We desperately need the reflex of asking, “Do you really speak righteously, you mighty ones? Do you judge people fairly?” and then honestly answering, “No, you practice injustice in your hearts; with your hands you weigh out violence in the land” (58:1-2 CSB).

The wicked are so from birth, and no charmer’s recorder can whistle a tune to charm them. They are deaf to the cries of those they oppress.

David trusts in God’s righteous judgment, both now and future. He prays that they would be broken and swept away from their oppressive ways.

The sight of righteousness will cause the saints to rejoice, since their long waiting has ended. Though it may not seem so now, one day, some day, we will know with visible certainty that “there is a reward for the righteous,” that “there is a God who judges on earth!” (58:11 CSB).

The problem is, we too are wicked from the womb, deaf to the charms of righteousness’ flute. We practice unrighteousness and injustice. We deserve judgment. The only way this can be a psalm of good news is if that judgment can be meted out, but not on us.

It’s not enough to simply not give justice; that gives no hope. That lets righteousness go unpunished.

Justice must be done and its wrath spent. However we avoid wrath, we still must be able to say at the end, “There is a God who judges on earth!”

That’s why the Incarnation matters. That’s why Advent matters. That’s why imputed righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) matters.

I deserve to be swept away, consumed by fiery wrath for my anger, selfishness, for all the immorality bound up in my heart.

Yet Jesus came, so that “the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why he is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:11 CSB).

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel!

In the Most Dangerous Place I Take Refuge (Psalm 57)

In the most dangerous place I take refuge
Under the cherubim wings
To the most glorious King I can draw near
You will reach down and save me

I am surrounded by roaring lions
Whose teeth are sharp as a spear
Into their net they would snare my footsteps
They dig a pit before me

Be exalted above the heavens,
Cover the earth with Your fame
May the Holy One send us Your love
Let all the earth bless Your name

I can have confidence in my Redeemer
My songs can wake up the dawn
My harp and lyre resound to Your glories:
“The Holy One calls me His own!”

Your faithful love is higher than heaven
Your faithfulness reaches the clouds
Let every nation join us in our praises
Over the world hear the sound

Be exalted above the heavens,
Cover the earth with Your fame
May the Holy One send us Your love
Let all the earth bless Your name

12-1-2017

My God, Whose Praiseworthy Word (Psalm 56)

 

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Wicked men trample over me
They fight against me on all sides
They think of only evil schemes
Their voices twist the truth into lies.

My God, whose praiseworthy word
Makes me know the glory of my King;
I call and know that He will answer,
I am convinced my Jesus is for me.

Jesus maps my faltering steps
His eye watches o’er my way
In His bottle all my tears are kept
He delights to raise me from the grave

My God, whose praiseworthy word
Makes me know the glory of my King;
I call and know that He will answer,
I am convinced my Jesus is for me.

11-30-2017

Fifty-Five (Ae Freslighe)

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Listen, please, pay attention
Do not hide your face away
I’m caught in this contention
Of those who make me afraid.

I’m wrecked by this hurricane;
If I had Jonah’s feathers
I’d fly away, unrestrained
By all this fearsome weather.

The town filled with injustice,
Violence and strife patrol;
Flailing on the precipice
Of judgment waiting below.

Make them Babel-confounded
And make all their schemes confused;
That the war-cries resounded
Against me may fall unused.

My wounds’ pain still increases
At the news of a traitor
My friend, my friend! oppresses
Me, lays my heart wounds barer.

They won’t pursue repentance
Or fear the God of power,
He will pour in abundance
His wrath and make them cower.

Cast your heavy encumbrance
On the Sovereign’s strong shoulders
He’ll give you His affluence
And make your prayers bolder.

I won’t go down desolate
For finished is His mission:
I trust His grace exquisite
To His promises listen.

11-29-2017

Post Tenebras Lux (Duni)

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Foolishness, such a waste of a life,
To hide oneself from truth.
Life lived along a dark path:
Pursuing wickedness,
pursuing plans of wrath.
Deliverance is coming through
For all who come to the light.

Walkers in darkness stumble until
They see the light afar,
Dawning in the shadows’ murk
In Zion, as He said:
Rejoice! No longer lurk
So distant, you’re no longer barred
From Him, so of Him be filled!

11-27-2017