Dispatch Twenty-Two

Posted: December 24, 2013 in Sixth Bundle
Tags: , , , , ,

PSALM 40:1-11

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Happy are those who make
    the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
    they would be more than can be counted.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Here I am;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 Do not, O Lord, withhold
    your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    keep me safe forever.

If we didn’t know the source of this passage we might easily attribute it to Jesus. In fact, Luke may well have had this scripture in mind as he crafted the episode in his Gospel of Jesus’ inaugural sermon in Nazareth.

Jesus certainly had a “new song” to teach the world, one whose inspiration was resourced in a dimension beyond the “sacrifice and offering” of conventional religion. And the seventh verse of this psalm, about the identity and purpose of God’s special agent contained “in the scroll of the book,” is almost certainly the supporting text of Jesus’ claim that Isaiah’s prophecy about the new age of the Holy Spirit was coming to fulfillment in him and for his generation (see Luke 4:16-21).

“I have not hidden your saving help within my heart. I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” – this sounds very much like it could have come directly from the personal journal of Jesus himself.

So we can see that the spiritual vocation is not typically the prelude to an officially “religious” life, but most often marks the transcendence of religion in the life and mind of one so awakened. For its part, religion ought to nurture and encourage this progress of spirit; sadly it too frequently becomes its most aggressive adversary. Whenever Jesus encountered this anti-mystical tendency in religion, he renounced it outright.

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