Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thoughts on Ps 135 pt 2

So, it’s been a few days since my previous post. I left off noting that the second part of the psalm involves a remembrance of the great deeds of God in the history of the Israelites and how this remembrance is a reliving of for the Israelites. I begin with verse 13:
Here the psalmist goes into a declaration of God’s glory based on His actions that he has just remembered. Consider the depth of his words:
Your name, O LORD (or Yahweh,God’s covenant name), endures forever, Your renown, O LORD, throughout all the ages.
“Your name”-this is the sum total of all that God is. This is all of His holiness, righteousness, sovereignty, mercy, love, covenant faithfulness, etc. The placement of this declaration is important. It isn’t made in a vacuum. The psalmist says this after he has spoken and remembered God’s great acts of creation and redemption. This is not, “Well, I feel like God’s name is great and it will endure forever,” or “It seems like God’s name will endure forever.” It is known to last forever because of God’s actions. He has shown Himself to be good and holy and righteous and faithful by His actions. He has shown Himself to be completely consistent with His character.
In this we see that His name endures. It has lasting power. It won’t wear out or break down. God will remain consistent with Himself. he won’t change. His name endures forever. This isn’t just staying power, like a football team having endurance for the entire game. It’s not endurance like the universe. It’s not something that lasts a long time. The Roman empire endured for a long time, nearly a millennium, but it ceased to be. The island of England hasn’t been invaded for almost a millennium; it may go longer. However, God’s name endures forever. God remains steadfast. He won’t change. This is shown in the psalmist’s remembrance of God’s works. He has been consistent. He will remain so forever. This is indeed a comfort for us. God is consistent even though our world changes. his name, His character will endure!
The psalmist also says that Yahweh’s renown is through out all the ages. “Renown” could also be translated as “remembrance.” This is about God’s deeds being remembered and recognized. God has proven and shown Himself to be good and all can see that. One could say, “Your reputation precedes you.” Now, God’s reputation is so great that it will be remembered throughout the ages. This is just another way of saying forever. And yet it is more active in a sense; some translations render the last words from “generation to generation” or “throughout all generations.”
Verse 14 flows out of these two statements about Yahweh. In recalling that God’s character is unchanging the psalmist declares:
For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.
This verse captures the anticipation of worship. Worship draws to look into the future. We are assured by God’s actions in the past and can have hope in the future. God will vindicate His people, He will once more prove Himself faithful. All those who trust in God can hope and look forward to this. This anticipation is grounded in one’s remembrance of God’s past deeds. Without remembrance and recall, we have no ground for a future hope. We have no ground for hope without our contemplation of God’s past deeds. And our remembrance has no focus if it does not lead to an anticipation of the future. For if our remembrance only leaves in the present, we run the risk of thinking our current circumstances are all that there is.
This latter though is something we are especially prone to in our culture. We are so comfortable in our present state; we act like this present state is the goal of our Christian walk. We end up emphasizing only the here and now if we neglect the future hope we really do have.
But, we must see what this vindication is though. It is not our souls being freed from this material world. it isn’t spending eternity in some amorphous spiritual realm. Our vindication is God declaring us free from sin and our bodies being purged and renewed in the likeness of Christ. It is us being glorified and perfected. But it is not only us that his happens to! It is all of creation, the whole physical universe being renewed and glorified, being given a state of perfection that exceeds the Garden of Eden far and above what the Garden exceeds the current state of this world!
Why though is all of this possible? How is it that all of creation can be renewed? It is because of the second Adam, because of Christ’s death and resurrection that this is possible! All who trust in Christ are vindicated because Christ was vindicated! In His death, the sin of the whole world was placed upon Him because it pleased the Father to do so. Christ willingly accepted this even though He didn’t deserve it. And God was so pleased and appeased that He showed forth His satisfaction by raising Christ from the dead. Christ was raised and glorified by the Father and through Christ the Holy Spirit has been given to renew us and to begin to renew all of creation, just as the Father had planned. At the Final Judgment, we, all who have trusted Christ’s work for us, will be vindicated in Christ because sin death and the Devil will be cast into the Lake of Fire and all the cosmos will be renewed. This is the anticipation that worship leads to and needs. The psalmist, of course, did not know all these details, but he certainly could anticipate God’s work even when he wrote this psalm. Why? Because he could recall all of God’s past works of redemption for Israel and see that God would never be inconsistent with Himself. Vindication for God’s people would come and it would be God who would accomplish it!
We can now see why an admonition against idolatry would follow the psalmist’s remembrance and anticipation. This, however, will have to wait for part three. I think that I have written enough to consider for the time being.

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