Meditation . . . Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible Part 3

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!. Psalm 40:17

In Part 1 I asked the question: How do you “read” and/or pray a Psalm as an individual follower of Christ (possibly as a part of your daily practice) AND as a member of a particular Christian tradition (in corporate and/or daily practice)? As an extension of this consideration I offered the “simple” exercise of comparing/contrasting the reading, praying, and reflecting upon Psalm 40 with U2’s performance of 40 (Vertigo Tour Live From Chicago, 2005).

In Part 2 I tied “active”/intentional waiting to Advent and began to explore the Book of Psalms as “the school of prayer” (Life Together, 47), with an emphasis on praying the whole Psalm. It is important to highlight that Bonhoeffer understood daily silent meditation on the whole Psalm as part of a strict Christological “ordering” of the day, i.e., “rule of life”. In my opinion, this daily practice provided a significant element of the complex undergirding for his

  • resistance to Nazism in the pastoral training offered by Finkenwalde Seminary as part of the Confessing Church
  • theological writing and publishing in the face of opposition (eventually a ban)
  • serving as a double agent involved in a plot against Hitler
  • journey through prison camp, even the grace to forgive his enemies when there was so much more to do with the remaining years of his life (including a sweetheart waiting his release and the rebuilding of the Confessing Church).

Simon Chan writes in Spiritual Theology: A Systematic Study of the Christian Life:

Just as you would not dissect and analyze the word spoken by someone dear to you, but would accept it just as it was said, so you should accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart as Mary did. That is all. That is meditation. Do not look for new thoughts and interconnections in the text as you would in a sermon! Do not ask how you should tell it to others, but ask what it tells you! Then ponder this word in your heart at length, until it is entirely within you and has taken possession of you (170-171).

With this in mind and a desire not to offer additional material at the end of the term, I commend to you the Sons of Korah‘s setting of Psalm 40 to music. To not be distracted by the images in the video, I recommend the first time you listen with your eyes closed (~ 6 min 20 sec). May you find this a blessing as you rest in and wait upon the Lord in the midst of the complex challenges which you face. To God be the glory!

Note: Sources Consulted for the whole project (PDF).

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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