Do me a favor and please read Psalm 105.
I think I’ve written a psalm on this before (the 104 psalms before this have covered many grounds – some of it the same exact stuff) but this praise-psalm really strikes me in its story telling. As the psalmist reflects on the past of their people – she praises God. As she traces the history from the patriarchs to the Exodus – she praises God. As she reflects on God’s word and covenant – she praises God.
Who is this psalmist that sings of praise and recalls a long timeline in history of God’s covenantal work upon their lives? Not sure. We don’t really know much of anything as to authorship, time, point in history, or reason for writing. Were they sitting in bed, unable to sleep, thus they went to their table and began to write? Maybe. Have they returned from a long day of work and slid into their tub to soak and thus this reflective praise came to mind? Sure? Maybe they are leading a worship service and this is a “call to worship” for the people? Possibly. Or maybe they are sitting around the dinner table and each person has an opportunity to share a historical-praise with the rest of the group and this is what ________ came up with? Why not.
There are numerous psalms that we have where we don’t have background information – and we have to be OK with that. It’s not that it doesn’t matter, it’s just that if we dwell and argue about what we don’t have then we fail to look at what we DO have. And in this case – we have an encouragement to praise God from this place of the past. They aren’t dwelling on the past, they are simply reflecting on God’s work from a very specific time period. With that being said, is there a story you would use as your “historical-praise” story?
What’s interesting is that the psalmist doesn’t use their own narrative. They don’t use a story of their own personal past – but instead they draw upon the community and the work of God in all his people. And I think right there is where I am struck profoundly. We often times are so inwardly focused, so individually driven, that we often times fail to see outside of us. But let us remember that life is not about us – especially in God’s redemptive plan. We are part of it – but so are so many more people. The story of God’s plan may have started with one person, but that one person then quickly jumped to a small group of “people” that then opened up to the Church world-wide. No longer was it Abraham and no longer was it the Jews. It now was people from every tribe, tongue, culture, nation, and place (Rev 7:9) that would gather together as redeemed people under the banner of Jesus Christ and the atoning blood.
So what is your historical-praise story? Do you go back to the Exodus and tell of God’s work like our psalmist does? Do you go to the story of David and Saul and God’s workings from the first king (Saul) to his relationship with David and God’s hand throughout all of that? A story that isn’t about Saul, isn’t about David, but is about God’s covenant and word to establish his kingdom and protect his people through David’s genealogy. That through him (David) a “seed” would come through the line of Judah (Jesus Christ) that would lead, guide, save, and endure forever (2 Sam 7). Is this maybe where you go?
Maybe there is something more current? I don’t know. And in truth, this is where I’m stuck. I may be struck by the “non-personal” story and I’m challenged to find it but I’m stuck ON finding it. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I feel removed from David and Saul. Maybe their story simply doesn’t feel like “my story.”
Maybe we feel that our story doesn’t find its place in the Exodus or the patriarchs (people like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). But that’s not right nor is it true. The Bible, while it speaks from Genesis-Revelation of GOD’S story and revealing Jesus Christ, it still is MY story as we are in it and part of it. Simply because I feel removed doesn’t mean that I am. The beauty of the Bible is that it not only speaks of a sacrificial atoning love for us, but it pulls us into a greater story that speaks to us. Words of encouragement, hope, peace, grace, mercy, and love jump off each page as we remember all that God has done FOR US. It may not be my direct history…but it is still part of my story. OUR story. GOD’S STORY.
And God’s story is one of love, sacrifice, heartache, joy, praise, lament, forgiveness, and hope and one where WE are part of it. A story that is not done and is still be carved out. And each day we have an opportunity to praise God – because yesterday is now part of a collective past. And tomorrow? We’ll be able to praise God for today. Maybe that’s part of this challenge? A year from now, 5 years and even 10 years from now we’ll be encouraged to reflect and praise God for his past workings in his people. So what are your eyes open to today to seeing what God is doing today with you and your brothers and sisters that will bring you to praise God tomorrow? Next year? Or 10 years from now?