It seems that by the providence of God and the wisdom of the compilers of the lectionary, we are to take seriously Psalm 105! This past Sunday a portion of this psalm was set for our main service of the day (Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22), and appropriately so. The later portion of the psalm gives us Israel’s way of ‘reading’ and interpreting the ‘Story of Joseph’ – the beginning of which was the Old Testament lesson for the day (Genesis 37: 1-28).
This morning, however, the lectionary brings us back to read and reflect on the entire Psalm (the first half set for this morning; the second, for the evening’s office). At the heart of the psalm- the main thing that drives the whole thing- lies verse 4. What the psalmist wants more than anything else is to encourage his people to ‘Seek the LORD and his strength; Seek his presence continually!’
I found myself drawn to this exhortation this morning, and to the fact that it IS an exhortation. This is the one thing above all things that the people of God need to do; and yet, it is also the one thing among all things we are not prone to do; thus, the exhortation! Ask yourself: did you wake this morning with THIS task as the FIRST task on your agenda?
As I read through the psalm it occurred to me that what follows the exhortation is the psalmist’s way of motivating us to ‘seek’. He calls us to ‘remember the wondrous works he has done’ and then retells the story of Israel as a way of helping us do so (beginning with the Patriarchs themselves, v 7-15; Joseph, v 16-22; Jacob’s coming to Egypt, v 23-24; Moses’ deliverance of the people from Egypt, v 26-36; and culminating in the wandering in the wilderness and the entry into the Promised Land, v 37-44).
And all of this to what end? ‘That they might keep his statutes and observe his laws’ (v44).
In other words, that the people the psalmist addresses might live their lives AS the people of God.
To remember the story, and to remind ourselves that this is OUR story, is a wonderful way of motivating us to ‘seek the LORD.’
But how do we do so?
Go back and read the first few verses of the psalm and note the other exhortations: ‘Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him….’
Once we are motivated to ‘seek the LORD’ through our remembering the story, we are to flesh out that ‘seeking’ in cultivating the practices and dispositions of ‘giving thanks’, of ‘witnessing’, and of ‘praise/worship’!
These are the concrete ways we ‘seek’ the LORD;
and the concrete ways the LORD allows himself to be‘found’!
I commend them to you, as I commend them to myself this day.