Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘artificial ritual’


Saturday, November 9, 2013

praise[2]Psalm 50

A Sacrifice of Praise

“The problem here is that a dead conscience lies behind the feverish ritual, reeking with sacrificial smoke, on the one side, and, on the other side, ignoring public morality.  People think that ritual wraps its sacred mantle round them to hide the rotten morality of their lives.  Ritual, however, is no alibi for sinning.  The “wicked” addressed in v. 16 should probably be understood as none other than the “people” of v. 6, who are as eager to recite statutes as they are to offer sacrifices, tough without taking to heart the obligations of the covenant . . . It is also possible . . . that the criticism is also directed specifically at them [priests and leaders].  These leaders are afraid to condemn what the people are doing lest they lose their stipends (Deuteronomy 18:8).  They even encourage sin to receive greater sin offerings and so “they feed off the sins of my people” (Hosea 4:8).  Tolerating such deviousness, they give the impression that God is also deaf and blind to the situation.  In concluding the entire psalm, vv. 22-23 echo phrases from the minor conclusion (vv. 14-15) and realistically warn once more against the sin of religious externalism”.  (Mays 413)

We might think about religious externalism, about wrapping ourselves in perfunctory or false ritual.  We might also think about what drives us to engage in artificial ritual.  We might think about our spiritual hunger.

We want to caution ourselves when we are thinking that perhaps God is deaf and blind to our circumstances.  God knows and sees all.  This we must trust.  This we must believe.  When we feel as though our petitions fall on deaf and uncaring ears, we will benefit from standing our sense of loss on its head: perhaps we yearn for God so much . . . perhaps we hunger so much for more of his healing presence in our lives . . . that we feel as though he does not listen . . . is not present . . . does not respond as we might wish.  We might consider that our thirst for God is so great that we believe that God is not listening . . . when in fact he is.  This might mean that our sense of hunger and thirst is not such a bad thing after all.  Consider the words from Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water . . . For your love is better than life, in your name I will lift up my hands . . . On my bed I will remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . .

We long for God.  We feel incomplete here on this plane with only God’s Spirit to accompany us, only God’s Son to walk with us.  We want to feel the full impact of a constant interaction with the Trinity.  For this we hunger.  For this we thirst.  This is praise we are willing to offer to God.  This is praise as sacrifice.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 413. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 26, 2008.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: