Thursday, May 28, 2009

Psalms and the Word of God- or, Mikes flight of fancy

When we think about what it means for the scriptures to be the Word of God, to be written by both humans and God, to be a revelation of God, the paradigm we most often use is that of the Old Testament prophets. God generally comes to the prophet and says “ Go to my people...x and say to them, thus says the Lord.....”. God gives words to the prophet to pass on to the people.

But what happens when this paradigm hits the psalms. Of all the parts of the Bible, the psalms are most obviously human. They are prayer and praise directed from humans to God. How then can they be considered the word of God? How do they reveal God?

Since the Psalms are in the canon, as much as the prophetic literature, I want to do a little thought experiment with you to see what would happen if we made the Psalms our paradigm for what it means to be the word of God.

First God’s word gives us our response to God. The psalms, given from God, give us words with which to praise him. They place in our mouths a range of God ordained ways to respond to him. They shape us into worshippers. The knowledge of God they give is not simply information detached from us, but a knowledge which affects us, which places us in a specific role, praisers. We know this God as we respond to him in appropriate praise.

So what would this mean for Jesus as the word of God?
Well, here is the one who shows us the Father by his obedience. Here is the one who shows us the perfected human response to God. Here is the one who offers himself as sacrifice, and whose sacrifice is vindicated. God’s word to us is “follow this one”, for our lives to sing the psalm that is Jesus. Jesus shapes us into thankful worshippers, and this is his role as the word.

If the heavens and earth are made by the word of the lord, we find that they too are shaped by that word to be worshippers of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God”

In Romans 15, Paul describes his letter and his writing as presenting the gentiles as an offering, that they might praise God for his glory. The letter isn’t to dump a bunch of theological info, but that a people might be shaped who respond to God well.

So if we take this forming-God-approved-worship as the point of the Word of God, what does that do to our reading of the rest of scripture? For the way we study it at college? For what kind of things we do in church? Perhaps we should all read the scriptures out aloud, as God’s word to us and our word back? Hmm, Cramner seemed to be big on scripture in liturgy too.

Well there’s one wacky thought for the day

1 comment:

Mike Bull said...

Not wacky at all.

The Mosaic Tabernacle is silent. Moses sits and listens.

Then, the wilderness.

Then, Moses sings the law to the people. The post-wilderness rebuilt Tabernacle (like David's) is always a liturgical response. It is full of music, generally a victory song after the death of God's enemies. And also a memorial for all time.

In Tabernacle language, the Ark speaks (Day 1), and the Lampstand responds (Day 4). The Psalmist stands in the Holy Place. It is a head-body relationship.

Or is that wacky?