Last week’s psalm, asking who may abide on the holy hill, sounded like a song of ascent — I tossed in Mt Taylor to support that idea. It may have been tagged #ascent had it been written in twitterland, but the formal classification encloses Psalms 120 to 134 — right after that longest psalm. So this week’s 125 (text>) is a ‘proper’ song of ascent and therefore, as pointed out last time this came up, short and hopeful.
Len and Sue, drawing on recent events in the US including the fate of the Confederate flag and President Obama’s historic eulogy for Rev Pinckney, brought us a powerful, well-informed and cogent reflection on the growing need for equity and social justice. Steep ascent! We sang that lovely gospel refrain from PFAS 15C, I’m gonna live so God can use me, anytime, anywhere — and a drop of the 12-bar blues to scratch your cantor’s itches.
Watching the news each night, it’s easy to think that greed, prejudice and inequality are just part of our DNA. Partly true, but the psalms also provide a different and more hopeful angle:
The scepter of the wicked shall never rest upon the land allotted to the just (v. 3)
Key-word? Just. Chatting with Len afterwards, we discussed his main theme and felt that justice is in our DNA too. The concepts of justice and equity arise time and time again in these songs. One of the foundation verses is found in Psalm 99:4
O might ruler, lover of justice, you have established equity.
Established. This verse sticks in my mind as a reminder that creation established the concept of justice and equity. As the American constitution says: all are created equal. So that’s in the DNA too. Isaac Everett in his book The emergent psalter adds this comment:
Equity didn’t exist in the days of Moses and Aaron … nor does it exist in our world today. There are still rich and poor, masters and slaves, oppressors and oppressed… This psalmist [is] boldly … seeing the world as it ought to be rather than as it is. I love it.
Next time Psalm 99 comes up, use his response honouring this belief in equity and justice as fundamental.
As for Psalm 125 this week, many refrains pick up the prayer that peace may be upon God’s people — an equally valid hope.