Friday, February 14, 2014

Psalms 102, 103, 104, etc.

I was praying the psalms, and I noticed a sequence among Psalms 102, 103, and 104.
  • 102: The Psalmist is in distress and calls to the Lord
    "Do not hide thy face in the day of my distress!" (v.2)
  • 103: The Psalmist extols the Lord's mercy
    "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities." (v.10)
  • 104: The Psalmist blesses the Lord and all his works
    "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" (v.1, v.35)
So it is in the spiritual life: we recognize our great need of the Lord, thank him for his great mercy for us, and then with renewed vision we praise him in all his majesty! I noticed a few other signs that appeared in each psalm:

  • I am like a vulture of the wilderness,
    like an owl of the waste places;
    I lie awake, I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
  • [The Lord] satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
  • By [springs] the birds of the air have their habitation;
    they sing among the branches.
  • In [the trees of the Lord] the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
  • Notice that these follow the pattern: lonely birds (102), renewed birds (103), birds at home with the Lord (104).
  • My heart is smitten like grass, and withered. (102:4)
  • As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
    for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
  • Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
    and plants for man to cultivate.
  • The first psalm compares his heart to grass that is withered and smitten--the effects of sin. The second psalm describes the days of man as grass in a similar manner, but then extols the Lord's steadfast love which is greater than such days. The last psalm only refers to grass as something brought forth by Lord for the sake of others. Such are the saints, brought forth by the Lord and providing nourishment to those who are as yet like beasts.
Another sequence of psalms seems to overlap the one mentioned above. Psalm 104 describes all the works of creation, expanding on the content of Genesis 1. Then Psalm 105 describes the works that he did for Abraham, Jacob and Joseph (the rest of Genesis), and then for Moses, Aaron and his chosen people (the book of Exodus up to Joshua where they attain the promised land). Psalm 106 then describes the failures of the chosen people in the course of these events: the wickedness of Dathan and Abiram (Nm. 16), the worship of Baal Peor (Nm. 25), the waters at Meribah (Nm. 20), and so on.