Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Mark 14:26). Every time we review from the gospels what transpired on the night of Christ’s betrayal, we come upon this detail which speaks so eloquently about Jesus‘ attitude when confronted with the most difficult, crushing crisis. As this Psalm is part of the so-called Hallel (praise), it is possible to think that these were the very verses sung by Jesus with His disciples before going into the Gethsemane. The Psalm begins with multiple calls to praise (vs.1-3) and concludes with the same line: “Praise the Lord” (v.9). The object of praise is the name of the Lord (mentioned three times in the first three verses). This is the name used by God to make Himself known (Exodus 3:16; 6:7) and extols the covenant God initiated with His people. Worshipping God should not be limited by time and space, but rather it should extend to the whole earth, and “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets” and to continue “both now and forevermore” (v.3).

The reason for praising God is His greatness. “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, and His glory is exalted above the heavens” (v.4). What we have here in poetical language is also expressed by theologians as the notion of divine transcendence. He is the Creator, the Source and the Preserver of life, the absolute Sovereign of the whole universe. To convince us of His love, the Lord was ready to come down, to take on human existence, and to be “made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7). “He raises the poor from the dust” (v.7) was the song of Anna and Mary, which can become our own song when we realize that He is with us every new day, when we are surrounded by danger, and He remains loyal to His promise: “And surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

Dear Lord,

We have a need to know You better; please expel any trace of doubt from our hearts and give us the power and the courage to praise you today, in spite of any adverse circumstances. Amen.

 

Ioan Campian-Tartar
General Secretary
Romanian Union Conference