Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Epiphany 5c - Psalm 138

Psalm 138
This is a psalm with high hopes. All the kings of the earth will sing of the ways of the Lord, despite the lyrics “he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away” for kings, or queens for that matter, are not generally addressed as “your lowliness.” But they have been humbled by the words of God’s mouth and so they join the psalmist in praising God and even the little g gods have to listen to the song. In the Large Catechism Martin Luther defines a god as anything or anyone “upon which you set your heart and put your trust.” The pantheon of little g gods, wealth or ability or intellect or religious pedigree, etc. would prefer to stop up their ears and ours to the sound of the song of praise to the big G God. In times of trouble when souls grow weak they sing their own song offering comfort or escape in the small g god of indulgence or denial. But little g gods always disappoint for only a big G God can save us from ourselves and fulfill the high hopes of the psalm. Humbled by the words of God’s mouth who hears our cry for help, preserved and delivered in the day of distress, God’s purpose is fulfilled for us. And that is the highest hope, that in spite of our addiction to little g gods the big G God sang for us the endless song of enduring, steadfast love and invites us to join the chorus.


  1. It seems a little dry to me to say that God "regards" the lowly and "perceives" the haughty from far-off. I get it, though -- God comes close-in to the lowly, but there's a detachment from the haughty.
    If I were a psalmist, I'd want to say that God loves and embraces the lowly -- that is, those who really "get" that they're human. (The writer of Isaiah certainly gets it!)
    And as to the haughty (which includes me all too often), I don't think God holds out. It's we who hold out on God.

  2. I think you've got that right, Rich. To be fully human is to not pretend or act as if you were God and so accept that we are the created not the creator and to be haughty is less than human because it denies creature hood.