Tag Archives: Psalm 113

Life is a Psalm

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From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised

Psalm 113:3 (NIV)

There are two themes in the Great Story that I have repeatedly mentioned across the 15 years I’ve been writing these chapter-a-day posts, and they are beautifully present in today’s chapter, Psalm 113. They are, however, easily missed by the casual reader.

The first is that God’s base language is metaphor. God, like any good artist, expresses Himself into everything created. This means that everything we see in creation is connected to God’s Spirit and is layered with meaning. There are spiritual lessons to be found everywhere if my spiritual senses are open to them. The ancient Hebrews understood this. I would argue that they understood it a lot better than we do today.

I say this because the editors who compiled the anthology of songs we know as the book of Psalms did so in a very specific way. They placed songs together in specific sections and in a specific order, which adds an added layer of meaning beyond the text within the psalm.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 113, is part of a group of songs known to the Hebrews as “the Hallel” (Hallel means praise). Psalms 113-118 are part of the Hebrew festival of Passover when they celebrate God’s miraculous deliverance of their people out of slavery in Egypt. These six songs are placed together so as to create a structured psalm out of six individual psalms. A psalm of psalms. Layers of meaning. Metaphor.

If you’ve been reading along in this chapter-a-day journey, you might have noticed that almost every psalm begins with a verse of praise or crying out to God. Psalm 113 is the opening of the six-psalm Hallel. It’s the call to praise. It’s the first song of the Passover feast’s “Hallel,” and it is sung before the meal. It’s the calling of the participants into Spirit mode, to quiet and open hearts and minds to consider the story and the spiritual lessons contained within.

Layers of meaning.

I then happened upon verse 3:
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised

In recent weeks I’ve blogged out “numbering my days” and the lessons keeping track of the days I’ve been on this earth (20,017 today) has taught me. One of the lessons that I didn’t mention, however, was the lesson about layers of time.

For centuries, followers of Jesus have celebrated Jesus’ story on an annual basis. Each Christmas we celebrate His birth. Each Easter we celebrate His resurrection. Millions of followers all over the globe structure their worship around the annual meditation of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and mission. The Great Story contained with a year.

Ancient followers of Jesus who were known as mystics recognized that our infinitely metaphorical creator had layered time with meaning. A week (which God established at the very beginning, in the first two chapters of the Great Story) is seven days. The number seven is associated with “completeness.” The Christian mystics saw the Great Story and an entire lifetime every week. We toil through the week. Friday we remember Good Friday and Jesus death. Every Sunday we celebrate resurrection and hit the reset button. The next week begins anew. The Great Story contained with a week.

But a single day is yet another layer. Each day begins with a new dawn. There is new hope for what this day will hold. There is a new opportunity for change, redemption, reconciliation, and love. Each night brings the end of the day. It is the end of the opportunities of this day which passes away with the other 20,017 days which cannot be relived. Each morning is a mini-resurrection of life. A day dawns, and I was never guaranteed that I’d live to see this day. Opportunity, hope, and joy spring anew. The Great Story contained with a day.

From the rising of the sun, until it goes down, the name of the Lord will be praised.

A psalm out of psalms.

The Great Story from Genesis to Revelation contained in a year, a week, a day.

Leaving this wayfaring stranger to ask, “What am I going to do with this day?”

Just like a psalm I’m going to start with praise, endeavor to live it out in such a way that it is marked by love, honesty, and humility, and end it with gratitude and praise.

My life this day is a psalm that contains the Great Story.

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Lessons Learned in Time

A page of a calendar.
A page of a calendar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
He settles the childless woman in her home

    as a happy mother of children.
Psalm 113:3, 9 (NIV)

I have been meditating in recent weeks about the passage of time, and the way that God has arranged layers of meaning into days, weeks, seasons, and years. God exists beyond time and time is as much a part of God’s creation as the stars in the sky or the oceans. As with all artists, what is created is an expression of the creator and I have been thinking about the ways time expresses the character and nature of God, who is not bound by it.

So, as I read the psalm this morning I was at first struck by the third verse of the lyric. Praise and worship of the Creator is to be a part of the natural flow of day from morning until night. In ancient days, there were specific times around the clock when followers stopped what they were doing to pray. Christian tradition calls this the daily offices or “praying the hours.” I attempt to pray the hours on a regular basis, but confess to being horrible at it. David even wrote in the lyric of his psalms about his stopping to pray five times a day. Some religions continue this tradition as do some groups within the larger family of Jesus’ followers.

Then I came to verse nine and it stirred a whole host of emotions within me. This is a verse that I had memorized and held onto while, for years, Wendy and I were diligently attempting to have children together. As our attempts met with repeated failure, this verse became the source of incredible anger within me as I wrestled with doubt, disappointment, and discouragement. The incredible emotional pain of that period of our lives has waned over this past year or two, but reading verse nine brought it flooding back to me this morning.

And so, this morning I have these two verses connecting for me in ways I would have never connected them seven or eight years ago. I have come to learn that there are layers of purpose and meaning in the passage of time. Day-by-day God is to be praised in the waxing and waning of the sun and moon as we tread our life journey through its peaks and valleys. Wendy and I have not realized our hearts desire to have a child together as had envisioned. Throughout our earthly lives, this reality will be the source of shared grief.

In the hindsight which the creation of time affords, however, I now realize that the promise is not wholly unfulfilled nor is the grief we experience eternal. As we walked together through some dark times Wendy would say through her tears, “If God is good, and He is, then we must believe that the plans He has are the best for us even if we don’t understand them.”

Many days have passed. The grief has not gone away, but it less acute than it was. Over time, our experience has broadened my perspective and I like to believe that it has deepened my faith. I am learning that sometimes I ask the wrong questions, and then get angry when I don’t understand the answers. I am learning that time is layered with more meaning and purpose than I’ve ever realized, and that lesson changes the way I experience this 17,415th day of my journey and the way I relate to those with whom I share it.

From the rising of the sun this morning, until it goes down, my heart and my lips will praise God.