Sunday: Psalm 119.129-144 & Deuteronomy 15.1-11

From Caroline Dixon

Psalm 119:129-144

Psalm 119 continues to unfold with praises to God for his good words, testimonies, rules.  The psalmist is oppressed by man; he feels small and despised; he is confronted with trouble and anguish.  But, in the time of trouble, the psalmist finds relief in remembering God's words and keeping them.  He experiences God's words as wonderful, as a source of light, as truth.  And he prays that God will keep his steps steady, to help him understand the law more deeply, and to rescue him more fully from his current oppressive situation.  These verses weave together lament, praise, and petition.  Lament - the psalmist testifies about how the world is broken and how he is oppressed; praise - the psalmist looks to God and sees goodness, wisdom, light; petition - the psalmist is not afraid to ask God for relief.  

In praying about this passage, I experienced a shift in the way I applied it to my own life.  I formerly saw the praise as an introduction ("buttering up"...?) to the petitions.  But, now I see the praise as part of God's answer to the petitions; it is (it can be) joyful to praise God.  Praising God for his real goodness and majesty can lift us out of our sadness, even when the sad situation hasn't changed at all.  The praise might be part of God's answer to the petition; God is giving the psalmist some relief to his pain by allowing him to worship.  In any case, this psalm's lament, praise, and petition are so interwoven that there is no clear sequence of logical argument, such as "this is my problem; you're great; why don't you fix it."  

Deuteronomy 15.1-11: Listen to today's sermon!  

The year of release (every 7) and the year of jubilee (every 50) have always fascinated and confused me.  Are we to understand them as tastes of the Kingdom, full of freedom and release?  Did the Israelites ever actual follow these laws; they would have hit the powerful the hardest, so maybe they were more likely to be ignored?

And for us - Does this mean that all of our human commerce (lending and borrowing) is a joke to God?  Were we never meant to have sophisticated financial products?  How does this relate to us today, when nearly everyone we know bears decades-long personal/family loans for education, homes, etc.?  Or, when our entire modern stock market is built on a foundation of millions of small loans to raise the capital needed to create a company?  Are loans really so bad?  Or, is this not really about loans, but about oppression; and loans were simply the way that people found themselves oppressed in that time?