Psalm 111

This and the next psalm are short acrostics in Hebrew. This would make them easier to memorize. Reading this in most English translations, it seems little more than a collection of stock ritual phrases, perhaps just a little contrived or formulaic. But the language is not poetically forced; it’s very simple. Precisely for this reason, in Hebrew it would be one of those grand old favorites that no one forgets. It fits any occasion because it hits all the high points and provides a comfortable setting for awakening the mind to hear the song of the heart.

The first word is hallelujah — praise Jehovah. It’s meant to be shouted. Following that is a declaration that we will throw up our hands at the name of the Lord, but doing so from the heart, and shamelessly in front of all God’s people.

The imagery is condensed, and merely translating the words weakens the effects. The products of God’s hands are extravagant and anyone with good sense strives to stand in His favor to receive them. We are greeted by a parallelism declaring that God’s actions are unforgettable, and those actions mark Him as the ideal sovereign. His household never lacks because He always walks by His own covenant; it’s His nature to do so.

Indeed, under that covenant He demonstrates to His tribe the power to carve out their inheritance from the riches of other nations. He plays favorites for those who cling to Him. What He does defines truth and justice. His revelation changes everything; it’s more trustworthy than all human wisdom and knowledge put together. What He promises will surely come true. He elevates His own family above all the rest of humanity and stands behind His promises. His very name is awesome beyond words.

The first fruit of wisdom is learning to take Him seriously. People who walk in His revelation are the very image of prudence. The ultimate wisdom is to acknowledge Him as Creator.

Psalm 110

This prophetic psalm is quoted extensively in the New Testament — Matthew 22:44; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13, 5:6 and 10:12-13. Well before Jesus’ birth, rabbis had recognized this as a wholly Messianic prophecy. Jesus claimed this as His own. However, we know from more ancient Hebrew culture that this kind of thing bore echoes throughout the history of Israel until that final moment on the Cross when the New Covenant was instituted. Several major figures between David and Christ manifested elements of what is promised here, as God’s way of showing He had not forgotten the core of the promise.

That core promise is cast in terms of Ancient Near Eastern feudal terms, that God the Father would pour out His wrath against sin until no one was left to resist when His Son inherits the domain of Creation. It is the image of an imperial declaration upon the Son’s completion of a grand quest that earned His vestment as heir to the throne.

As you might expect, the Hebrew language in this psalm has been parsed to death, yet often poorly translated. In the first line, David declares that the Lord Jehovah spoke an oracle to His Son, whom David calls his Lord. The oracle was that the Son could take His rightful place of honor until the final completion of the Father’s plans in preparing a worthy inheritance. The standard protocol is to insist that the realm would be pacified first. In the ears of Israelis hearing this psalm, that signifies breaking down even the smallest flicker of resistance to their divine mission of revealing Jehovah. It also carries the subtle warning that if any in the nation resists that mission and calling, they will perish, as well.

That’s because the mission to is the Flaming Sword of Eden. A part of the ancient image of that Sword is that the one who wields it must first fall on its blade himself. He must purge himself with the same fire of truth before he can turn it against the darkness of this world. So the mission and calling of revelation on Israel is also the mission to go out in battle formation with that truth and revelation into all Creation. Jehovah will use His Covenant Army to complete this pacification for His Son’s inheritance.

So David declares that God’s people will most certainly be eager to carry out this pacification. David uses such beautiful language to describe an army of holy warriors assembled in the wee hours of the morning, ready to march at the Lord’s command.

In the meantime, Jehovah declares His Son a priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. The writer of Hebrews expounds on this, imbuing the title with meaning that is not obvious. Jesus would serve as High Priest according to something more ancient than the Covenant of Moses, a timeless primordial covenant that rests on the foundation of Creation itself, a priesthood that stood before Moses and would stand after Moses is closed out.

No human agency has sufficient power or authority to resist this divine commission. No ruler or combination of rulers, or even all the combined political power of the entire human race could resist His sovereign majesty. Who resists will die, plain and simple. And God will not cease this mission. He’ll camp out in the field and drink from His own provision of wild streams in the wilderness as He pursues His enemies. He will “lift up His head” — the image is someone who is altogether content with harsh conditions in the field so long as there is a single soul unconquered. His resolve will never waver.

Take No Prisoners

Moral reasoning is the master of all human knowledge. Without moral valuation, nothing else matters, because nature itself objects to moral vacuity. Reality will crush you unless you first establish a heart-led moral frame of reference. And the heart-mind alone is competent in moral reasoning; the intellect has no anchor point at all within itself for such consideration. Reason knows only the mechanism for finding what pleases itself, and that pleasure arise entirely from the various lusts of our fleshly being — Lust of the Eyes, Lust of the Flesh and Boastful Pride of Life.

The intellect is inherently pretentious. It cannot see clearly in the mirror of its own reason, but proclaims itself a separate party from the competing desires from below that imaginary floor of reason and clear thought. It pretends it can umpire between the various mindless demands of the fleshly appetites, when in reality, it only moderates them with crafty tactical considerations. The final question the intellect answers is, “What can we get away with?” Once the intellect accepts a demand from the lusts, it internalizes that demand as inherently good-right-and-just, and projects that outward as some kind of cosmic moral imperative. In the mind, reality itself demands this thing he or she wants.

No civilization in human memory has so thoroughly fallen for this deception as the West. Western Civilization was the first to discard entirely the supremacy of the heart-mind. Instead, it ensconced the intellect as lord of all. No other civilization rests so completely on the self-deception of reason. We have this vast, smothering pretense that reason alone is competent in all matters worth any thought at all. That each and every individual holds competing answers to life’s questions serves to indicate some presumably obvious need for the rise of a reasoning priesthood to establish the baseline for everyone else.

What no one seems to notice is that the flavor and shape of this alleged baseline of what is judged “reasonable” reflects the bias of whomever cares most about subjecting everyone else under their viewpoint. It’s that busybody impulse that rules Western society because the vast majority would rather back off, just live and let live. So the busybodies rule and their narrative is the default. Despite being an obvious minority, they insist that theirs is the majority viewpoint because no one else has that evil impulse to seize control and dominate the conversation before things can get out of hand. “We can’t just let people do what they want!” They seize the dominance without any of God’s moral justifications. Indeed, they demand to hold the authority of the shepherd without the slightest inkling of accountability for the sheep.

We reject this state of affairs. Not that we can dislodge the prissy busybodies from their dominance of Western society, but we are under no moral obligation to buy into their narrative. Indeed, the truly Christlike answer is to wisely consider from the heart that there are times to raise a prophetic ruckus against it. Given that the busybodies claim to own Jesus, too, we know better than to engage in debate about it. We learn that this sick blindness is equivalent to demon possession. Don’t argue, just act. And when you do, never apologize. Never regret, because that’s just buying into the Devil’s lie.

Genuine compassion is moral superiority. The compassion that gently binds up wounds is the same compassion that roughly snatches someone from the fire. It’s all one. It’s the same compassion that slaughters any army attacking your God-given dominion. It’s merely a question of tactics. What does it take to obey your divine call? What does it take to glorify His name in this context? Shape your answer from biblical morals, not from Western mythology.

Psalm 109

We are hard put to understand an individual imprecatory psalm in this final book of public worship songs, but must trust the wisdom of those who acted within that ancient culture. It’s for sure that all of us have experienced the underlying core of this prayer — a betrayal by someone we trusted, and for whom we cared. At least in that sense, we understand using this as a common ritual, since it is such a common experience, and the solution modeled here is clearly seeking a pure heart.

It is this business of heart-led faith that remains so foreign to our Western sensibilities. It is so very central that there is no need to speak of it directly here. Yet without it, we would miss the meaning of the curse David prays on his enemies. It seems a little extreme. On the one hand, we cannot forget that hyperbole is rather the norm in dramatic poetry like this. On the other hand, if this symbolic enemy has truly closed off his mind to the moral leadership of his heart, then the curse simply lays bear the awful things this man has done to himself and to those who depend on him for life. Thus, the attitude of the psalm is, “Lord, let him have the fullness of the evil he has chosen!” David prays this for the very reason that it reveals the moral character of God most clearly.

The format presumes at least some political authority. The office of king is merely the chief elder of the nation. It is his duty to take some risks in parceling out the vast moral duties of shepherding to feudal servants. With all the care he could take, David still finds himself suffering the presence of fakes who seek unjust personal gain. Sadly, he doesn’t always find out until rather far down the line of trust. Thus, David begins by setting the scene of betrayal of a trusted subordinate, someone he elevated to high trust and some power. This person used their position to bring David down for personal gain. In particular, they have falsely accused David in a very public manner. We presume David would hardly balk at a justified accusation, as we know from the record of Scripture, but this was something that was done all completely wrong, and it was false in the first place.

David responds with a detailed curse. We note that it is a long string of common images and standard idioms from those times. It starts with asking God to make his life hard, and then to make it short. And to ensure that no one learns from his evil ways and takes up his selfish thinking, David prays that his family suffer as well. We forget how dangerous it is to the whole nation if people who close up their hearts and commit themselves to mere human comfort are allowed to prosper and multiply. It is a common presumption of the Ancient Near East that the bad morals of a head of household corrupt everything he rules over — people, property and all. David goes further in asking God to withhold mercy and not forget the moral evil that brought forth such a traitor.

Such a man is presumed to curse vainly at others, since it was so common. Without a heart-led moral awareness, all that’s left is the lusts of the fallen soul. David prays that God return all those vain curses back on the man who uttered them. Let them wrap themselves around his soul, and soak into his very being — like excessive water a man drinks that overflows his stomach and is absorbed through his bowels, like oil wastefully lavished on everything until it soaks through his clothes and skin into his bones.

By contrast to this, David looks to his Master to save him from such accursed people. Better to face the wrath of God on his genuine sin than the “help” from people like that. David pours out the depth of sorrow and pain from this awful betrayal. There is also that common note, “O Lord, how long shall I endure this sorrow?” Then David asks the God deliver Him in such a way as to let people see he stands in God’s favor. Let them be ashamed of all their unjustified cursing and plotting secretly against him; expose them as liars. But as for David, his focus is on reflecting back the glory of God before a watching world.

The Lie of Open Society

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Open Society concept. Despite all the sweet sounding rhetorical promises, it’s a lie from Satan. It presumes the perfectibility of man, a flat rejection of God’s revelation. The major flaw is the rejection of man’s tribal nature. Under the Curse of the Fall, God insists that we must live in a tribal society; it is hard-wired into Creation itself. The Open Society denies God by rejecting His revelation.

Despite the basic theory of democratic advancement, that once people learn of Open Society principles they cannot go back to the tribe, you will find a great many ideologues promoting the Open Society by force. Since we won’t voluntarily merge into one global world without borders, we must be forced. Thus, it’s proponents are eager to destroy the global economy and provoke global bloodshed to make it happen.

Of course, any efforts to politically promote God’s Law is pointless, for the most part. That is, we cannot make it a countering agenda and take up arms to defend our national borders against the proponents of Open Society. You as an individual moral agent can find yourself called to some activity that serves an ostensible political end, but you cannot pretend that calling is somehow mandatory to other believers.

What we can and should do is promote the truth of God’s Word. His entire revelation of Law Covenants stands on the assumption of Eastern feudal tribal lifestyle. You cannot pretend to understand His Laws any other way. We are called to live His Laws in the microcosm of our faith fellowship and communion — in our churches. This is how we demonstrate His truth and reflect His glory. How the rest of the world responds isn’t really our concern; that belongs to our Sovereign Lord. We can pray and teach the truth, and know beyond all doubt this is what is in every human’s best interest, but until their own heart calls them to this truth, there is little else we can do the help them.

Don’t accept the false dichotomy that we have to defend “our nation” against this attempt at global government. The Open Society is an evil, to be sure, because it represents an anti-American global human oppression. It is also anti-faith, the core of Western intellectual arrogance. However, the opposition to it here in the US would just as quickly seize global oppressive power in the name of American culture and prosperity. It’s real interests are basically Wall Street. There is yet another team at work, which is the global banking agenda, along with others harder to characterize in a short discussion. None of them represent the genuine interests of the citizens of any country, much less Americans.

Our Father knows what He’s doing, steering these events according to His divine wisdom. Watch and understand as much as you can, but keep your hands on your own calling.

Simple Goal

Keep in mind that spiritual birth and heart-led are not the same. There is a correlation, but they are not the same thing. People can most certainly have one without the other.

We would love for everyone to enjoy spiritual birth. However, Scripture tells us flatly that God alone handles this and we cannot comprehend how it works. The best we can do is become aware of our own spiritual birth.

We have a lot better chance of helping folks by awakening the heart-mind connection. We still cannot do it for them, but we at least can grasp something of the process and work with it on our level here. And we have the blessed assurance that once awakened, it will virtually ensure fulfillment of all the promises in God’s Laws. That is, the heart-mind opens the door to the whole meaning of divine revelation. If we can just get across the message of living by the heart, we can afford to back off and see what comes of it.

It’s not foolproof, but it works so well that it is sufficient as our all-encompassing emphasis. It’s our evangelism. God speaks so eloquently from Creation that we can simply let go at that point, and trust Him for the results of anyone making that connection inside themselves. It’s the gateway for escaping the Curse of the Fall. Best of all, it correlates with spiritual birth.

If spreading the Life of heart-led is all we do, His glory shines.

Psalm 108

Echoes of Psalms 57 and 60, this combines praise and lament. Likely David used common worship phrases to lift up a battle song, not so much preparing for a literal fight, but to stir both confidence and humility before God.

David proclaims that his heart is standing tall and on the firm footing of God’s glory. From before the dawn, his heart awakens him in worship, so that his hands will awaken the musical instruments. It hardly matters where David finds himself at any moment, for there is a proper place to sing the glory of Jehovah, Creator of all things. The greatness of His mercy and truth stand above the brightness of the sun. So should all of Creation see His glory.

David’s call on God is not merely for Himself, nor so much for any particular people, but for the glory of His mission given to Israel. It is His own revelation living within the nation that He loves most. This is the only justification for calling on His limitless power.

And what does God say? He will exult in the triumph of His truth revealed among men. He knows the intimate details of such landmarks as Shechem between the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, or the Valley of Succoth. He owns the vast grasslands of Gilead and the Tribe of Manasseh that resides there. He keeps the Tribe of Ephraim powerful and safe in the fortress of His mind, and the power of His Law is exercised through the Tribe of Judah. Moab is just a place to wash His feet, while He drops His sandals on Edom. Philistia will tremble with the echo of His triumph.

David asks who could possibly give him the military prowess to invade Edom. Perhaps this was one of those times when Edom was a problem for Israel. David asks rhetorically if God has not tossed Israel aside already, a standard protocol of prayer and supplication to one’s sovereign. It’s best to wait on God for dealing with such trouble, because mere man cannot solve anything that matters. Indeed, it is with the hand of God that all human trouble is put down.

Gospel Perception

We don’t preach orthodoxy and action; our gospel is essentially awareness.

The heart is far stronger and wiser than the mind. Lots of people already struggle with knowing; despite what their reason tells them, the power to do what they know is missing. There is something inside us that resists what is rational. But when you move your sense of consciousness into your heart-mind, the power to do is frankly hard to resist. Teaching about mercy and what kinds of action might fulfill our convictions is just a matter of shaking people loose from their old patterns.

When I go outside to pick up trash, it’s not as if some new sense of factual knowledge fills my head on finding the hidden pollutants. It’s much more subtle. It catches me out of the corner of my eye. There is no guilt if I happen to miss something and see it later. But the truth of God living in your soul calls to you from the center of your being. You don’t perform the mission; you become the mission. All you really have to do is fix those things inside of yourself; the world takes care of itself. Just conform to your own convictions.

But we also know that what we propose to the world is such a dramatic shift in human consciousness that we have no words. Truly, I don’t see how you can say your are heart-led when you end up with visions of uniformity. The sea change we seek is under the surface, not confined to mere human response. We want folks to lose themselves in the truth. Changes in the observable context must come as a result, but they are not the objective. Changed behavior is a symptom. You can’t teach symptoms; they manifest on their own. We have no vested interest in the literal outcomes.

Our vision should be an awakening of the sensory heart and the heart-mind awareness that cannot be seen with eyes.

Fear Is a Prison

So perhaps you’ve read today’s post over at the parish parlor blog and you know that I’m being treated for a potentially deadly problem with my heart.

In the words of Lenny LeBlanc in “O God, You Are My God” from the album Pure Heart

So I will bless Thee
as long as I live I will lift up my hands to Thy name
So I will bless Thee
as long as I live
and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.

As long as I’m still alive, I will continue to seek His glory. This is not the time to be afraid of what might happen; I’ll follow the best advice I can find, but only God can make it work. And if God is ready for me to report in person, no one and nothing can keep me here. I don’t care for this medication so far, but the doctors insisted I should be able to live as before. And probably far longer than any of us could guess.

So, let’s get to work and make the most of what time we have together, long or short. We are in a time of tribulation and miracles will be tossed out to His adoring children generously. Aside from the blog itself, everything we do as an online parish should continue fine with or without me. You are all still the same wonderful brothers and sisters walking in heart-led conviction of the truth.

Psalm 107

Book 5: Psalms 107-150

This is a catchall collection of several smaller collections of public worship songs, including the songs of Ascents and Hallelujah psalms. In other ways it seems to celebrate specifically covenant promises and how to claim them.

Psalm 107

This is called “The Song of the Redeemed.” While the specific focus is how God has kept His covenant promises, we do well to remember there is more than one covenant with humanity. The promises under Moses are specific examples of how God acts in all times and places. If you cling to a heart-mind awareness of His divine moral character in Creation, then Creation will respond of itself, but He will amplify those natural blessings to those who love Him.

We are treated to five examples, but the last is more of a summary. All are in dire straights, as is the norm for fallen humanity. In some cases the trouble is because of a failure to keep faith with God, but some are simply the result of seemingly random circumstance. God does what He does, and humans often stumble into His works without full knowledge and run the risk of perishing. In call cases, calling on His name is the key to deliverance, while giving thanks and praise is the key to staying out of more trouble. Does anyone have to explain that the symbolic or parabolic meaning is more important than the specific imagery?

It’s not hard to pick out the pattern of musical stanzas in the first four examples. Someone comes into difficulty, cries out to God and He delivers. The psalmist encourages all to glorify God for His greatness, as demonstrated by the repeated phrase, “His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!”

First are the travelers. For Israel, the standard symbol is wandering in the semi-desert wilderness. There is no particular sin at work; this is simply how the world is. By default, we are blind to God’s promises of provision. We cannot with our own human abilities find the basic needs of life and create a stable society. The symbol of shalom is summed up as stable and prosperous life in an Eastern feudal community. But if mankind calls on God, He will provide their needs, in this case by guiding them into His divine provision. He shows them the place He made for them and it provides all they need. When you respond to God’s call on your life, He provides all you need to glorify His name.

Second are the captives; there is little difference between slavery and prison in the ancient Hebrew world. In this case, it is the result of disobeying God, hinting at idolatry. This is a parable for those who reject whatever revelation God offers, and are forced to serve the Enemy of our souls. Calling on God is the only deliverance.

The third group is portrayed as ill, but the primary cause is moral illness — insensitive to the moral fabric of Creation. There is no pleasure in this dissolute life, and they approach death rapidly. But calling on God brings healing and restoration.

Fourth are sailors, a job that is high risk with a high payoff if you succeed. Ancient mariners were uniformly religious and quite superstitious because they were so powerless. They were fully aware of the power of God’s mighty works in Creation, because they saw it up close. When by His inscrutable will He sends storms into their lives, they experience the radical ups and downs of high waves, hardly able to keep their feet under them. But if they cry out to God, He can deliver them and guide them to their destination.

Finally, the psalmist summarizes God’s faithful to Israel. Had he called her to occupy the most desolate land of all, it would not have mattered. Were she faithful to the covenant mission, God could have easily made the desert like a garden, with streams and pools aplenty. It would become fertile and produce abundant food. Life would explode, including their own population. And if they stray from that mission, it could all be reversed and they would be oppressed and humiliated by their enemies. Don’t get too fat and sassy, because God favors the humble who depend entirely on Him.

The psalm closes with a final warning to heed the moral character of God as indicated by these examples.