High River United Church of High River, Alberta

Connecting with You - June 15
Grace & Peace to You,

 DSC3076 2 Photo by David Robertson

Susan’s Reflections on Psalm 45 & 46
First of all, I must note Psalm 45 – while it does have some lovely poetic lines –  is one of those psalms that is historical rather than spiritual.  While someone tried to make it into something about God, by addressing God in verse 6 – the line could just as well be translated, “Your throne is a throne of God.”  This is a wedding song for the king – and it reflects for us the cultural practices of the day.  So it is interesting but, for me, not spiritually engaging.
But Psalm 46 is one of those psalms whose opening lines resonate and have inspired hymns.  You may have sung “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come” which is inspired by this psalm and psalm 90.  “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing,” the hymn written by Martin Luther in 1529, was also inspired by this psalm.
The words themselves provide that solid foundation of faith.  Just repeating these words brings a sense of rest and invokes trust.  The 1st verse of this psalm and the 10th verse are ones to memorize so that you can have them ready to draw on in those moments when life is becoming overwhelming or out of sorts:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear.

Be still , and know that I am God!
The psalm writer uses images from his context to describe God’s strength.  Some fit for today, but some are better suited for past ages: God breaks the bow and shatters the spear.   What images would you use to describe the strength and wonder of God? 
The psalm writer captures, however, the longing of every generation, to be able to lean into God’s strength “though earth should change, though the mountains shakes in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble.”  
Right now, it feels as if the earth is changing.  It feels as if life is being shaken up. Sometimes it is hard to see how God is working with us in this world; yet, when we repeat words such as, “God is our refuge and strength!” there is a peace and a strength that settles upon us, and reminds us that God is accomplishing much more than we can ask for or imagine, something so much bigger than we can notice right now.  And so, we can, as the psalm asks, “Be still and know that God is God!”
David’s Reflections on Psalm 47

Clap your hands all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy… (vs.1)


There is something that we often forget when we read the psalms specifically and the Hebrew Scriptures generally.  The people of those times lived in relationship with an enchanted world.  Celestial and natural events were understood to be works at the hands of their Creator God.  So, their spiritual lives were informed by and in relationship with the natural world around them and the heavens above them.  The enchanted world was full of wisdom, revelation, and wonder.  It pointed the people to the over-arching reign of God—God of the cosmos and all creation. 


Psalm 47 is song of praise.  The people clap their hands and sing loud songs to God who reigns over all the earth and all the nations.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism approved by the Church of Scotland in 1648 asks, “What is the chief end of the human being?”  The response: “The chief end of the human being is to glorify God” (alt.).  I love that.  Our main purpose is to praise God.  Psalm 47 is exactly about that.  The heart and soul of this psalm is about a people’s praise as the soul purpose of the faithful community. 


I wonder if you have ever had a moment in your life when your heart leaps with joy—for no apparent reason.  There is just pure joy there that needs to come out.  Maybe you are in your garden and in that moment of connection with it and the earth, there is a profound sense of joy.  Or maybe, it’s viewing the mountains, or the greening fields, or perhaps it’s dropping off a baby gift and seeing the grateful, tired faces of the parents as they hold their little one.  There is deep joy in any one of these experiences.  Or, maybe you dance to the best album/CD in your collection during a moment of private joy and thanksgiving while clapping hands and keeping to the rhythm. 


The singing and clapping that we read in Psalm 47 is embodied praise.  There is movement.  The singing is upwardly focused on the God of all the earth and all the nations.  It is felt in the bones of the people and released in loud songs.  It really is an amazing event! 


This week what do the heavens and the earth show us about God whose reign is over all the earth and all the nations?  Might it lead us to singing and clapping?  Might it touch us deeply in such a way that we know our soul purpose is to glorify God?  Might we find a spacious and safe place this week to allow the clapping and loud songs to come out!  It is after all, our soul purpose!


With love and blessings,

Rev. Susan & Rev. David

High River United Church – a community of help, home & hope

“Just to be is a blessing; just to live is holy.”  A. Heschel



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