Season After Pentecost (Proper 15[20]) – The Psalms Passage: Praising the Lord with good sense and judgment . . . and wisdom

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the LORD is gracious and merciful.” (Psalm 111:1 – 4)

I don’t want you to think beloved reader, just because I am extending a theme in the titles I chose that I believe this psalm to be any better (or any worse for that matter) at praising the Lord. The Divine is worthy and deserving of any and all positive attributes that we would ascribe to the Lord God.

He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.” (Verses 5 – 8)

One strong reason that I do like this psalm passage is that it is based (so far) on the attributes of the Lord God apart from what the Divine might or might not do for any particular individual. It is praise that all peoples can get behind and join in, whatever their circumstance, situation and geographical and historical location.

He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.” (Verses 9 – 10)

Lastly, it gives us all the opportunity to be wise. However you understand “the fear of the Lord” and however you understand and describe “wisdom” – this psalm has something that all worshipers and followers of the Divine can relate to.

O fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.” (Psalm 34:9)

The other psalms passage for this week also under girds the pursuit of wisdom and understanding. This one being the passage that is paired to the description of wisdom calling out, and has the same sort of theme – the pursuit of wisdom, with a little more definition of what wisdom (according to the Divine) might be like.

“The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Verses 10 – 14)

But it is definitely a themed wisdom for this world and not the world to come. We do not read here of the eternal life that the epistle and gospel passage highlight. Good living, wise living is for this world. How then should we branch wisdom shown in this world to the world to come? Can we? There is only brief mention of redemption in verse 9 of Psalms 111. It comes from the Lord as part of a covenant. Paul would tell us it is part of the old covenant, which in the light of Jesus Christ has been updated. Maybe that should be (and is) an important part of the praise refrain, that our surety for the world and life to come is not dependent on our merits but on the faithfulness of the Lord God. Praise on, beloved reader! Selah!

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