Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse
Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” ~Psalm 133:1
This may have been a coronation psalm, one used during coronation ceremonies for David and his descendants. It is a prayer for God to bless the king’s reign “with abundant provisions,” joy for priest and people, and protection from enemies (vv. 15-16). Again, the earthiness of the psalms are evident. Praying for God’s blessing on ourselves, on those we serve, and on our descendants is actually a good thing! It’s the kind of praying that glorifies God. “We do not glorify God by providing his needs,” writes John Piper in Desiring God, “but by praying that he would provide ours—and trusting him to answer . . . Prayer is a delightful partnership. God gets the glory; we get the delight.” So go ahead and pray for God to bless you and those you love. And give Him the glory!
It is a beautiful thing when God’s people worship together in unity! The figurative language of this psalm may be lost on modern sensibilities. The psalmist uses a word picture describing the anointing ceremony of Aaron the priest. Picture thousands of people gathered to witness Moses and the elders install the new priest in office. Aaron stands before them, handsomely clad in the most expensive garments and bejeweled with a gold necklace. As temple musicians play and sing, a jar of rare perfumed oil is poured over his thick curly hair and flows down his kingly beard. The people watch with full hearts as their spiritual leader is anointed by God to shepherd them.
The psalmist wants to capture an image that is beautiful and God-glorifying in order to express the wonder of His people gathered together and living in harmony! Oh that we would pursue unity among the people of God with greater passion. It is good, pleasant, and beautiful (v. 1). When there is unity, there is blessing from God. Imagine, he says, the thick dew of Mount Hermon resting daily on Mount Zion—Jerusalem would be a place of Edenic bliss! We can bring this kind of beauty and bliss to our churches by pursuing unity!
Here is a short poem that encourages us to praise the Lord in the place of worship and to lift up our hands to Him. The full engagement of the body in worship (hands, eyes, lips, etc.) is evident throughout the psalms. God delights in His people when they are emotionally moved by who He is and what He has done.
Psalm 135 recounts God’s awesome deeds and calls on everyone—people and priest—to praise the Lord. It is considered one of the Hallel Psalms. The Hebrew word hallel means “praise.” (Our English word hallelujah is a Hebrew expression that means “praise to the Lord.”) Here He is praised for His sovereign rule over all things past and present, good and bad. “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all the depths” (v. 6).
The theme in 1 Corinthians chapters 8 through 10 is Christian freedom. Some of the Corinthians are struggling with the idea of purchasing meat that had been blessed by a pagan priest and sacrificed to a pagan idol. (The meat was not left on the altar to be completely consumed. That would have been a waste. The animal was slaughtered, dedicated to the “gods,” and then sold for a profit in a nearby market.) Paul defends the purchase of such meat as a Christian liberty. In other words, it is not a sin. Christians are free to purchase the meat or not purchase the meat. Those who have qualms about it need to get their thinking straight: this meat has been offered to a nothing. There is only one God, and He is the source of all things, even the steak you put on your grill (1 Cor. 8:4-6)!
Given that not everyone understands that God’s supremacy covers everything, we must be careful how we use our freedom. There may be a million things you are free to do, but do not be so calloused in the use of your freedom that you hurt your friends in Christ.