Feb 08 2013

Sunday's Child: Praising God, a Reflection on Psalm 99

Original post at http://suewhitt.blogspot.com/2013/02/praising-god-reflection-on-psalm-99.html

In preparing this week for Transfiguration Sunday, we read Luke's account which includes images of mountain, cloud, voice, changed appearance, and Moses is there. We see these themes in the reading from Exodus (although the cloud is missing and the people do not hear the voice directly).

The lectionary response to the reading from Exodus is Psalm 99. This psalm puts into words for us what it is like to be in the presence of the Lord. (Note that the psalm includes Moses, cloud, and mountain).

And it describes for us what the Lord is like.

It begins by stating that the Lord is king. Now, as an American I have trouble thinking of king as a good word. But, I haven't been able to come up with a contemporary parallel that fits the essence of what the word king meant at the time the psalms were first sung.

That is although I am unwilling to accept the notion that any human is exalted over all people, I am ready to proclaim that, certainly, the Lord is.

The God we worship loves justice, has established equity and righteousness. A reminder that we should favor equity and righteousness ourselves.

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and Samuel from a pillar of cloud, and they did what the Lord wanted them to do.

And when they didn't, the Lord our God forgave them.

John Hayes, in Preaching through the Christian Year C, points out that the phrase translated in the NRSV as "but an avenger of their wrongdoing" appears as "forgave all their misdeeds and held them innocent" in the NEB, and as "exacted retribution for their misdeeds" in the NJPSV.

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Sue Whitt

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