day 28 – put a psalm in my heart

Today we read Psalm 73-74, but to rightly appreciate them both, we do well to read Ps. 1-2, as well.

Our reading this morning, Psalm 73, is a word of wisdom that functions as the opener for the third book of psalms (Ps. 73-89). We should see view as such, as a gateway into a fresh journey into a collected set of deep experiences and candid expressions of the dealings of people with God. This psalm sets the stage for what will be a recurring theme in this collection: the tension felt between (1) a belief that God is ever good and always does what is right and (2) the psalmist’s own difficult circumstances, without and within, and how those who do not kneel to God often seem to be doing just fine without him, perhaps even far “better.”

So, do this: read Ps. 1 before you read Ps. 73. Read Ps. 73 as expanded commentary on Ps. 1, recalling that Ps. 1 is the opener for the first collection of psalms, indeed, for the psalms as a whole. As you read Ps. 1, note how the righteous are portrayed as a well-watered tree. But, as Ps. 73 makes crystal clear, note how that doesn’t mean such a “tree” is immune to serious challenges and troubles within (vs. 2-3,12-16,21-22). Similarly, read much of Ps. 73 (especially vs. 4-12) as something like the B-side of Ps. 1.4-6.

Tonight, read Ps. 2 right before you read Psalm 74 for they, too, function as commentary on each other. While Ps. 2 speaks of the king over God’s people, Ps. 74 speaks candidly of some of the frustrations and difficulties with what is happening to God’s people at a point in time and what their King, God, is (or is not) about in it all. If Ps. 73 is about an individual’s temptations and struggles with continued faith, Ps. 74 is about the struggles of the whole community of faith to keep on believing. God’s people declare “God rules (Ps. 2), but, “Where is his rule in this?” (Ps. 74) is a perennial question among us.

In it all, let us resolve, as both an individual and as a part of the greater community of faith in the living God, that no matter what comes in life we will think and speak like this:

“… I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge …” (73.12)

“… God is my King …” (74.12)

Reflect on these things, doing so with prayer.