A maskil of Asaph.
1 O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed —
Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
3 Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.
4 Your foes roared in the place where you met with us;
they set up their standards as signs.
5 They behaved like men wielding axes
to cut through a thicket of trees.
6 They smashed all the carved paneling
with their axes and hatchets.
7 They burned your sanctuary to the ground;
they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.
8 They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!”
They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.
9 We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us knows how long this will be.
Reflections: This psalm from Asaph, or penned by one of the school of Asaph, was meant for instruction which is what the term “maskil” means. And particularly instruction for a dark time in the history of Israel when they were invaded and the temple was destroyed. There were two times the temple was destroyed. Once in 722 B.C. when the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom, whose capital was Samaria. Secondly in 586 B.C. the Babylonians, led by King Nebuchadnezer involved the temple in Jerusalem. Most scholars seem to think this psalm is referring to the latter, while some think it is a prophecy of when that will happen.
Nonetheless we see the lament of the psalmist particularly over the destruction of God’s temple where the congregation met to worship God. The same temple that was intricately designed with all its wood carving and banners and curtains, was not shred to pieces and ruthlessly dismantled. And of most concern to the psalmist is the defiance of these intruders into the House of God and name of God. They lament that this destruction has left them without a place of worship and place and sign of God’s name and love.
As we think about our places of worship this is a good psalm to teach us that the purpose of the places we worship at are to lift up God’s name and be a place where He is glorified and we are fed as the sheep of His pasture. Each church is a place where God is worshiped publicly in the communities they are located as a sign of God’s presence like a light on a hill.
16 “‘On the fourteenth day of the first month the Lord’s Passover is to be held. 17 On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days eat bread made without yeast. 18 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 19 Present to the Lord a food offering consisting of a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 20 With each bull offer a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 21 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 22 Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. 23 Offer these in addition to the regular morning burnt offering. 24 In this way present the food offering every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to the Lord; it is to be offered in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 25 On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
The Festival of Weeks
26 “‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 27 Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 28 With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 29 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 30 Include one male goat to make atonement for you. 31 Offer these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.
The Festival of Trumpets
29 “‘On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets. 2 As an aroma pleasing to the Lord, offer a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 3 With the bull offer a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 4 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 5 Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. 6 These are in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings as specified. They are food offerings presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma.
Reflections: We see built into the worship life of the Israelites, several times each year of special celebrations for the provision God has made for them. In addition to a weekly Sabbath time, these three other annual celebrations helped them to remember what God had provided for them in a worship service. The feast of Passover lasted a whole week, and remembered the central act of God’s deliverance through the Red Sea and defeating the Egyptians.
This pattern reminds us that we need regular times of remembrance what God has done in our lives. Each week at our church we remember what Jesus did for us through the remembrance of His words and institution of Holy Communion. That is also beauty of keeping and remembering a church year with certain rhythms and celebrations I.e. Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost.
While some just associate this with traditional churches like Catholic or Lutheran, we can see that set within God’s plan for His people is to have times to remember, celebrate and worship God for what He has done in the past. This helps us in our present time to remember that whatever we are going through He will be with us and deliver us.
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Reflections: We see Mary’s reflections on what has just occurred. Her beautiful words are commonly called the “Magnificat” and often chanted in many traditional churches, like the Catholic Church. They reflect her worship as she reflects on what God has called to do in bearing the Christ Child. We see why God chose her, as her words reflect her humility and deep respect for giving glory to God rather than choosing to reflect on herself.
God continues to look for people on the earth who can bear His son who are willing to be humbly used by Him and for those who are willing to give all the credit to Him. As the writer of 2 Chronicles writes, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (ESV)
We can all learn from Mary whose humble estate, character and worship of God can be a model for us as we seek to be used by God to give glory to Him and also bring the Good News of His Son!
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9
Christ says, "Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24
Dearest Jesus, thousand, thousand thanks to you for teaching us that even in suffering and death, there is hope in the promise of new life - eternal life. May we, your servants, continue to listen and share this good news. Amen.