Daughters of Saul and Sons of Moses

Scripture Focus: Psalm 145.1-4
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; 
I will praise your name for ever and ever. 
2 Every day I will praise you 
and extol your name for ever and ever. 
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
4 One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts.

1 Chronicles 15.29
29 As the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.

Luke 19.39-40
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Reflection: Daughters of Saul and Sons of Moses
By John Tillman

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem and the week leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. (Matthew 21.1–11; Mark 11.1–11; Luke 19.28–44; John 12.12–19)

Like David’s procession of the Ark of the Covenant entering Jerusalem, Jesus’ processional was met by a joyous crowd. In both cases, there were those who wanted to steal the joy of the moment.

Michal, daughter of Saul and wife of David, critiqued the celebration. (1 Chronicles 15.29) She claimed to be concerned about propriety and modesty, but David’s response implied that her moralizing concealed a concern about power. (2 Samuel 6.20-23) The daughter of Saul despised this lowly king.

Likewise, religious leaders objected to crowds singing about Jesus “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25,26) They publicly voiced concerns about blasphemy but privately they were concerned about power. They didn’t want to upset Rome. (John 11.48) The sons of Moses despised this lowly teacher.

Psalm 105
is the Psalm listed in Chronicles as one David (or Asaph at David’s direction) sang on the occasion of the Ark’s entry. (1 Chronicles 16.7-11) However, despite Psalm 145 not having a date or event attached, one could certainly imagine its celebratory tone going well with the procession David led or the procession of Jesus the Son of David.

Those traveling up to Jerusalem would sing psalms on their ascent, preparing for and celebrating being in the presence of God. We can pray and sing these psalms with the same sense of anticipation. Jesus comes to us as he came to Jerusalem, humble and lowly. We can welcome him with shouts, cries, and joyous abandon that some will not understand.

Welcome him this week and every week as the only rightful king of our hearts. We must depose our affection for other Saul-like kings. We must abandon vestiges of religion which grasp at power rather than righteousness.

Do not let daughters of Saul or sons of Moses steal your joy in the lowly king, the humble teacher. Let us exalt him with pure praise and abandon. Let us ensure the next generation joins in with us.

“I will exalt you, my God the King; 
I will praise your name for ever and ever. 
Every day I will praise you 
and extol your name for ever and ever. 
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 
his greatness no one can fathom. 
One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts.”

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
…They cried out: “Blessed is he who is coming as King in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens!” Some Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Master, reprove your disciples,” but he answered, “I tell you, if these keep silence, the stones will cry out.” — Luke 19.37-40

Today’s Readings
Hosea 12  Listen – 1:51)
Psalm 145  (Listen -2:19)

Read more about A Way Back for Strivers
If we wrestle with you God, you will bless…If we will return to you, God, you will heal

Read more On Psalm 145: Praying as Music
If music is a universal language, prayer can be similarly described.

Prayer for Times of Crisis—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Psalm 89.46-49
46 How long, LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? 
How long will your wrath burn like fire? 
47 Remember how fleeting is my life. 
For what futility you have created all humanity! 
48 Who can live and not see death, 
or who can escape the power of the grave? 
49 Lord, where is your former great love, 
which in your faithfulness you swore to David?

From John: As we continue in many kinds of crises, we repeat this prayer from 2020. In every kind of crisis, we can rely upon God for mercy and justice.

Reflection: A Prayer for Times of Crisis—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Perhaps Psalm 89 was written by the same “Ethan the Ezrahite” who was a contemporary of David. Or perhaps it was written later by a contemporary of Ezekiel and other exiles. Regardless of when it was written, it shows us a helpful, repeatable pattern of prayer for those in suffering, doubt, frustration, or crisis.

The psalm contains three distinct movements of thought. In the first section, the psalmist praises the power of God over the cosmos. From the highest court of the heavens, he rules over things seen and unseen.

In the second movement, the writer describes God’s vision and purpose for humanity. The Lord promises an intimate, fatherly, guiding relationship. David stands in as a symbol for both the nation of Israel and for the role of Jesus who will be the “Son of David” to whom those longing for deliverance will call. (Mark 10.46-52)

In the third, the writer laments the sin of his people and that God seems to be abandoning them to suffering and allowing his purposes for them to fail. Despite this lament, or perhaps because of it, the writer ends with a challenging view of hope. The psalmist trusts that God will save, that wrongs will be forgiven, and justice will be done. 

A Prayer for Times of Crisis — Guided Prayer

Praise God for who he is and acknowledge him as the king and creator of all. He is more than just the source of all life but the source of all joy, love, and justice.

Review for yourself the assurances we have in his promises to us. That we will be made like him. That we will suffer, but with him and in his power. That we will be forgiven. That we will be his images, his sons and daughters, representing him.

Express to him your doubts and fears. Tell him what you don’t believe and ask him to help you believe. (Mark 9.23-24) Tell him how you feel without fear of rejection. Tell him what you fear without being shamed.

Praise him that he is the Lord, forever. Eternal life is not just in the future. It is now. Abundant life is not just pie in the sky. He is with us now. Praise him that he is with us forever.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, as you have promised to you servant.
Let your compassion come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight. — Psalm 119.76-77

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 23 (Listen – 3:39)
Psalm 89 (Listen – 5:29)

This Weekend’s Readings
Proverbs 24 (Listen – 3:47), Psalm 90 (Listen – 2:03)
Proverbs 25 (Listen – 2:56), Psalm 91 (Listen – 1:39)

Read more about Peace in Crisis
Today, we focus on the comfort and peace that we have from God in disturbing and difficult times.

Read more about The Hope of Lament
Biblical lament is not expressing a gripe or complaint. Complaining arises from a mindset of scarcity…lament is anchored in the confidence of God’s abundant goodness.

State of Our Souls

Scripture Focus: Psalm 86.11-13
11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

Reflection: State of Our Souls
By Erin Newton

Once again, these are unprecedented times. We have been jarred emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We need an anchor. There are times that we typically set aside to refocus our lives and assess any shortcomings. We see this in the state of the union, new year resolutions, or annual work performance reviews. In the same way, the church has often used the liturgical calendar to mark Ash Wednesday as a day of reflection and prayer.

The early church often held baptisms only once a year and the period between Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday was meant to be a time when solemn reflection was made. Time to think about salvation. Time to ponder the depths of the sacrifice of Christ. Time to resolutely commit to the lordship of Jesus.

Reflecting on the work of Christ in our lives is something we must repeat. Remembering our need for salvation, confessing our sin, and rejoicing in the grace of God is an anchor in these storm-tossed waves of life.

Psalm 86 is a wonderful hymn to pray for this purpose. The verses guide us. We acknowledge our need for God’s help. Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Our resources are shrinking; our mental and emotional capacity to endure wains. We need our Lord to intervene.

We must remind ourselves that we do not trust in an empty god as other nations do. Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. We anchor our souls in no false hope or pseudo-savior. We know that Christ alone is Lord.

We meditate on the character of God. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you… But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. We need to remember his goodness and love for us. Our world is always angry and hateful, but he abounds in love and is slow to anger.

So, with this, we recenter our hearts and minds on him. As we move toward the solemn remembrance of the crucifixion of Christ and his joyous resurrection, we recommit our lives. We pray for an undivided heart. No person, cause, or ideology should vie for the supremacy of Christ in our lives. Take this time to remember the anchor of our souls.  

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will confess you among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing praises to you among the nations. — Psalm 108.3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 21 (Listen – 3:12)
Psalm 86-87 (Listen – 2:26)

Read more about The Church’s One Foundation — Lenten Hymns
“The Church’s One Foundation” is Stone’s attempt to expound upon article nine of the Apostle’s Creed.

Read more about Examine the Examen
The simplest, shortest way to summarize the Examen may be the following five words: Awareness, Analysis, Admission, Acceptance, Anticipation.

The Cultivating Life

Scripture Focus: Psalm 85.8-13
8 I will listen to what God the Lord says; 
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— 
but let them not turn to folly. 
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, 
that his glory may dwell in our land. 
10 Love and faithfulness meet together; 
righteousness and peace kiss each other. 
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, 
and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good, 
and our land will yield its harvest. 
13 Righteousness goes before him 
and prepares the way for his steps.

From John:  In times of crisis, we need to rely on the harvest of faith. This re-edited post from 2019 gives us simple steps to cultivating a faith that we can rely on. A well-cultivated faith will yield encouragement for our own survival and also an overflow that we may share with others.

Reflection: The Cultivating Life
By John Tillman

The Lord seeks harvests of faithfulness from the earth. When we partner with him and cultivate the soil of our hearts, we ensure that Christ’s power will take root in us and bring forth a harvest of the fruit of the spirit.

We have written before, “cultivation is supernatural,” but the simple actions of cultivating faith are not ethereal or fanciful. They are the practical, steady doings of the farmer.

Water the Ground with Prayer
Praying is like watering the soil of your heart so that it doesn’t become hard and dusty and so that the things God plants there can grow.

Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as our father. It is easy to forget to converse with God like a trusted friend or a parent. Praying is also listening, so when we pray, listen—the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us something.

Spread the Good Seed of the Bible
The Bible, the Word of God, is the good seed that God plants in us, his fields.
It is a false dichotomy to attempt to set The Holy Spirit (or Jesus) against the Bible as if we could cancel the one with the other. If Satan’s kingdom would fall when divided against itself, how much more Christ’s?

The Bible is the writing of—the very breath of—the Holy Spirit, given to the men and women who wrote the Bible. So, to hear from the Holy Spirit, the most direct method is to pick up a Bible and read.

Nourish the Soil and Pollinate through Corporate Worship
Many plants growing near one another will share water and nutrients with one another. Other plants, when they detect a closely related plant will put out less extensive roots, so as not to soak up all the resources for themselves.

When we gather to worship we are helping others to experience the fruit of the Spirit and to share our physical and spiritual resources.

Cultivation is not an out-of-the-box, pre-prepared spiritual solution. It’s customized to our culture and our climate. When we keep worshiping God with others and planting the right seeds of what we learn about the Bible, and we keep watering the soil of our hearts with prayer, “faithfulness will spring up from the earth,” and “our land will yield its harvest.”

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God — Psalm 92.12

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 20 (Listen – 3:19)
Psalm 85 (Listen – 1:25)

Read more about Kiss of Righteousness and Peace—Guided Prayer
When love and faithfulness meet, righteousness and peace kiss each other. But before that…there is confession and justice, mercy and redemption.

Read more about The Ever-Patient Agriculturalist
Throughout the Bible, God is often pictured as an ever-patient agriculturalist. God begins by planting a garden in which to place humanity…

Facts and Harsh Realities

Scripture Focus: Proverbs 19.6-8
6 Many curry favor with a ruler, 
and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts. 
7 The poor are shunned by all their relatives— 
how much more do their friends avoid them! 
Though the poor pursue them with pleading, 
they are nowhere to be found. h 
8 The one who gets wisdom loves life; 
the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.

Psalm 83.1-4
1 O God, do not remain silent; 
do not turn a deaf ear, 
do not stand aloof, O God. 
2 See how your enemies growl, 
how your foes rear their heads. 
3 With cunning they conspire against your people; 
they plot against those you cherish. 
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, 
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”

Reflection: Facts and Harsh Realities
By John Tillman

When we say “scripture is true,” oftentimes we mean that it is the true word of God—that it is God’s chosen means of self-revelation—the message of the gospel. However, that is not all we mean when we say that scripture is true. Sometimes the scripture being “true” just means it is spitting straight, cold, hard facts. 

Harsh facts of life are inked in black and white in Proverbs. No punches are pulled. “The poor have no friends.” “Bribes work.” “Fools die.”

These kinds of statements aren’t endorsements of these conditions or events. They are merely factual observations that are meant to encourage students toward wisdom. When Proverbs tells us that the poor have few friends, the writers are not advising us to avoid their friendship. Rather than endorsing transactional relationships and practical concerns, the wisdom of the Bible encourages impractical friendships and helping those who cannot help us in return.

The wisdom of the Bible does not come from isolated religious hermits. The writers of Proverbs and the rest of scripture lived in the real world. They knew corruption. They were acquainted with grief. They bore the burden of oppression. They tasted the lash of abusive leaders. They knew more brutal horrors of war than we do. 

Among the harshest of realities are the realities of war. Writing this post on Friday, who knows how much further the war in Ukraine may spread by Monday. Uncertainty abounds.

I’m personally connected to some Baptist mission work in Ukraine through a seminary classmate. With non-Ukrainian workers now evacuated, the group’s posts are tense with concern and vibrant with faith. The pastors and churches they support in Eastern Ukraine are in real, tangible danger. As they share pictures of their children huddled in shelters…harsh realities surround them.

We don’t turn to scripture to avoid harsh realities but to face them. Pray continually this week over the harsh realities of war. Ukraine’s war has caught more headlines than most, but hardly a month goes by without some conflict that costs lives somewhere in the world.

The Bible acknowledges these harsh realities side-by-side with aspirational faith that justice will be done. Liars, lunatics, and war criminals will come to their end and be rewarded in kind for the evil that they do. God will not remain silent or stand aloof. He is with the suffering and the dying and those responsible will face justice.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people! — Psalm 3.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 19 (Listen – 3:09)
Psalm 83-84 (Listen – 3:20)

Read more about Worship and Politics
I have never heard anyone say that a politically tinged sermon which agreed with their politics was “too political.”

Read more about Are We Proud of the Prideful?
May we be and see better leaders in the mold of Christ rather than the world.