Begging for a Word

The 17th Sunday after Pentecost C – September 15, 2013

Psalm 119:169-176

Psalm 119  is the great teaching Psalm of the Hebrew Psalter.  It is one of three psalms known as the Torah Psalms,  psalms where listening to and meditating upon God”s Torah — his revealed word, his promises, his laws, his speakings to his people — is highlighted.  Psalm 1 and a portion of Psalm 19 are the other two Torah Psalms.

Psalm 119 is in the form of an extended acrostic.  Eight verses per letter of the Hebrew alphabet, each verse within a set of eight beginning with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order.  The structure of this Psalm was to aid in memorizing its contents.  There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet;  therefore, Psalm 119 is 22 x 8 verses long, 176 verses.  This week”s reading is the eight verses which begin with the last letter of the alphabet — in Hebrew, the letter Taw.

What follows are some insights gleaned from Luther”s  Commentary on Psalm 119 (AE 11).

Verses 169 and 170 are a cry or  plea to the Lord; a request, a begging for understanding and deliverance.  Reminiscent of Luther”s dying words, “We are beggars, this is true,” the psalmist is relying solely on God”s good gifts —  ”According to your word” — for understanding and deliverance.  There is no sense of merit in view here.  All is by the grace of the giver.  Understanding only from God  (I believe I cannot, by my own reason or strength, believe … but the Holy Spirit … –Luther) and deliverance only from God (“…there is no other name under heaven … by which we must be saved.”  –Acts 4:12. )

Verses 171 and 172 declare a response.  Good trees produce good fruit.  So the psalmist will have lips which pour forth praise when taught the statutes and a tongue that will sing of the Word, because the commandments are true.  Praise and singing will flow out, it cannot help but happen.  there is no quietism here.  But Playtech is one of the online slot machine games gaming industry leaders. Luther points out that casino online the earthly carnal tongue that ordinarily blasphemes, curses, tells filthy stories, gossips, slanders and lies, is now a new tongue — a new man of the Spirit is dwelling within and causes a transformation, a rebirth.

Verse 173 speaks of the Lord”s hand  ready to help.  This is nothing less than a pointer to the incarnation.  Jesus at the right hand of By October horoscope, horoscope capricorn today will experience more dynamic relationships with their friends. God, is working continuously and providentially among his people in Word and promise.  He will never leave us to go it alone.

Verse 174 is a statement of the longing and desire of the man of God.  Luther calls this a happy craving, holy hunger, and blessed thirst.  I was reminded of St. Augustine, “No rest until we rest in thee.”   Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after salvation (Matthew 5:6).

Verse 175 answers the question “what can we possibly offer to God?”  Only praise and love.  When the soul is enlivened, the sufferings of the body are inconsequential.  ”Judgments no longer harm but actually embrace the praise.”  (Luther, AE 11).  This great mystery is most certainly true.  Cancer sufferers, the chronically ill, families who suffer unbearable losses when these folks are in the arms of Jesus — it is simply amazing the praise and honor for God that flows forth.

And lastly, verse 176 reminds us of the true humility and ties this reading to the rest of the pericopes for this Sunday.  ”All we like sheep have gone astray.”  (Isaiah 53:6)   We need a shepherd to seek us out, even when (particularly when)  we hear the commandments.

True humility resides in recognizing our need and hearing the gifts that come our way by God”s actions and Word in the world.  Thanks be to
God that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who brings us God”s good gifts.

This reading points to Christ.


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