On many occasions we’ve reminded you to remember everyone that is present in and around the Biblical text. There are often actors in the foreground, living out a scene in real history; there are also actors offstage who are visible to those onstage but not always evident in the text – like when Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt were vying for supremacy. There is the LORD, the primary actor and subject of the Bible. There are writers, who write with purpose and point of view. And there is the audience, to whom the composition is written and to whom an author takes a posture of informing, encouraging, or persuading. These “characters,” if you will, are always present, but shift between foreground, background, and offstage positions.
I mention all this to call attention to the importance of the congregation in the Psalms. Though many Psalms are composed from a personal aspect – as though we’re eavesdropping on a moment of prayer between a worshipper and his God – they often intimate that their expected audience is public. There is a model of leadership here: the Psalmist declares “I will give thanks to you, O LORD… I will sing praises to You among the nations,” and expects the harp and lyre to awake. When he calls, “Praise the LORD!” today, he gives thanks “in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”
With all this in mind, there’s one Psalm today that stands out as unique. Pay attention to the details of Psalm 110: The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The words we use for “Lord” are not interchangeable. You’ll remember that the capitalized LORD is how English Bibles represent “Yahweh” – the name of Israel’s God. The lowercase version of Lord translates as an earthly ruler or master. So the author is sharing that “Yahweh, the Most High God,” said to my master, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
Listen further: “The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!” To whom is the writer speaking? The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Remember him? The king and priest of Genesis 14? What is the writer talking about? What is the purpose of this Psalm? Who, or what is being celebrated? And where does the congregation fit in here? Read Psalm 110 thoroughly, and map the words in your mind.
Our verses for this week are Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalms 108 through 112. Now let’s read it!
Psalms 108 - 112
108:1 My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
God has promised in his holiness:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Valley of Succoth.
Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet,
Judah my scepter.
Moab is my washbasin;
upon Edom I cast my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
Oh grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.
109:1 Be not silent, O God of my praise!
For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues.
They encircle me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.
So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few;
may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the LORD continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!
He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat;
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
May it be like a garment that he wraps around him,
like a belt that he puts on every day!
May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
of those who speak evil against my life!
But you, O GOD my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name's sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is stricken within me.
I am gone like a shadow at evening;
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting;
my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads.
Help me, O LORD my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love!
Let them know that this is your hand;
you, O LORD, have done it!
Let them curse, but you will bless!
They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!
With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.
110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
111:1 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 splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance 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.
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!
112:1 Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked will perish!