Two Great Poems Contrasted

September 29, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

Psalm 132 and Lamentations.  I read these two portions of scripture together the other day, and what a contrast they present!  Psalm 132 is a “Psalm of Ascent.” one of those fifteen short psalms following 119 that were presumably sung as pilgrims made their way up the fifteen steps to the temple for worship.  On the thirteenth step, as they neared the top, they would sing the longest of these songs and be reminded that the temple was built in Jerusalem because of David’s influence, vision and leadership (1-5).  They would also be reminded that God promised a Davidic king to sit on the throne forever, as long as his descendants kept the requirements of God’s covenant (10-12).

          Four hundred years after David, there was no more temple and no Davidic king, for Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had come in and destroyed it all.  The book of Lamentations is Jeremiah’s cry and prayer over the destroyed city of Jerusalem.  In this great poem, Jeremiah not only laments the loss of God’s temple and his own home, he also recognizes God’s hand in the matter because of Israel’s sin.  They no longer kept God’s covenant, and God allowed, actually brought upon them, the destruction Jeremiah witnessed, just as he’d prophesied through Jeremiah he’d do.  The reminders of Psalm 132 were forgotten or ignored.

          The good news in all this is that, even through the destruction, Jeremiah recognizes God’s love and faithfulness.  The high point of Lamentations is in these famous words:  “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” (3:21-23).  Looking back 2600 years later, we can see that God was faithful to his promise.  He has placed on David’s throne one of his descendants, Jesus, who is the king of kings, and he will reign forever.  The ultimate expression of God’s love and faithfulness is that he has not forgotten his people but has he sent his Son, through David’s line, to be their eternal King and to save them from the ultimate destruction they deserve for not keeping God’s covenant.  And so we can sing with the pilgrims on the steps, “Let us go into His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool.  Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let Your godly ones sing for joy.” (8, 10)

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