Tuesday Hymns: “Psalm 139” (The Trinity Psalter)

I have mentioned before how much that I enjoy singing the Psalms in corporate worship. For the last two Sunday nights we have been singing the 139th Psalm from The Trinity Psalter. Of course, the Psalm itself tells so much about the glory of the Lord we worship: we are told of His omniscience in verses 1-6, His omnipresence in verses 7-12, His omnipotence in verses 13-18, and of His justice and mercy in verses 19-22, and 24. Along with the theological depth of the Psalm, we hear the literary beauty of this particular metrical version. For example,

Where shall I from Thy Spirit flee,
Or from Thy presence hidden be?
In heav’n Thou art, if there I fly,
In death’s abode, if there I lie.

We sang the Psalm to the tune of New Winchester, and the Psalter listed Maryton as the tune of choice. Both are easily sung, and are appropriate to describe the transcendence and immanence of our holy and loving Lord.

Our Tuesday Hymn of the week: Psalm 139 from The Trinity Psalter.

LORD, Thou hast searched me; Thou hast known
My rising and my sitting down;
And from afar Thou knowest well
The very thoughts that in me dwell.

Thou knowest all the ways I plan,
My path and lying down dost scan;
For in my tongue no word can be,
But, lo, O LORD, ‘tis known to Thee.

Behind, before me, Thou dost stand
And lay on me Thy mighty hand;
Such knowledge is for me too strange
And high beyond my utmost range.

Where shall I from Thy Spirit flee,
Or from Thy presence hidden be?
In heav’n Thou art, if there I fly,
In death’s abode, if there I lie.

If I the wings of morning take
And utmost sea my dwelling make,
Ev’n there Thy hand shall guide my way
And Thy right hand shall be my stay.

If I say, “Darkness covers me,”
The darkness hideth not from Thee.
To Thee both night and day are bright;
The darkness shineth as the light.

My inward parts were formed by Thee;
Within the womb, Thou fashioned me;
And I Thy praises will proclaim,
For strange and wondrous is my frame.

Thy wondrous works I surely know;
When as in depths of earth below
My frame in secret first was made,
‘Twas all before Thine eyes displayed.

Mine unformed substance Thou didst see;
The days that were ordained to me
Were written in Thy book each one,
When as of them there yet was none.

Thy thoughts, O God, to me are dear;
How great their sum! They more appear
In number than the sand to me.
When I awake, I’m still with Thee.

The wicked Thou wilt slay, O God;
Depart from me, ye men of blood,
They speak of Thee in words profane,
The foes who take Thy name in vain.

Do not I hate Thy foes, O LORD?
And Thine assailants hold abhorred?
I truly hate all foes of Thine;
I count them enemies of mine.

Search me, O God; my heart discern;
And try me, every thought to learn,
And see if any sin holds sway.
Lead in the everlasting way.

Reed Report (Update)

There are certain things that we know are God’s will beyond a shadow of a doubt: the things written down in God’s Word. For example, we know that Christians should only marry Christians, although we don’t know if we should marry a redhead, a brunette, or a blonde, or someone whose name is Buffy. We know that we are not to commit adultery, steal, murder, lie, covet, take God’s name in vain, use images to worship God, or forget the Sabbath Day, but we are not sure which particular church we should join, what school to attend, or whether to have fries with that Whataburger.

Today we know that our family is in God’s hands, that He knows the future, that He has everything under control, and that we have nothing to worry about; however, we are not sure what our next step should be. We had been hopeful (and we appreciate all who have been praying for us) and had been preparing to try to enroll Reed in an assisted living center in Brookshire, Texas. It has a Christian foundation, enables its citizens to work in its industries, and helps take care of their basic needs (food, shelter, meds, etc.), and seemed like a good fit for him, however, now it looks like it is not going to work out. So after five months of meetings, interviews, work days, et cetera; it looks like we are back at square one.

We are so grateful that God’s providence really is “His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.” We can rest in His grace, His love, and His purpose. So now we begin to search out anew our options, even as we trust that He will guide our steps into the future. Or, as Oliver Cromwell was once purported to have said, “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.” Onward.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts”

I have begun teaching through the Westminster Confession of Faith during our Bible Study hour on Sunday mornings and, presently, I am in the middle of the section entitled, “Of God and the Holy Trinity.” As someone has once said, “If you try to comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity you may lose your mind, and if you deny it you will lose your soul.” It is a challenging doctrine to understand, but we must always remember something that John Calvin has written, “The finite cannot comprehend the infinite.” If we could understand all there was to know about God, would He really be God?

In looking for a good Biblical summary of the doctrine of the Trinity I came across this paragraph in Alan Cairns’, Dictionary of Theological Terms:”

Since there is one God, and since the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and since these three are clearly distinguished in Scripture, we are left with the glorious truth of the Trinity—one God eternally existing as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, each indwelling the other and each possessing, not in part, but entirely, the infinite essence of the one divine Being. Contemplating such a majestic mystery of revealed truth, we are constrained to cry out with heaven’s seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts” (Isa. 6:3). (page 417)

Or, if you prefer, you may always fall back on the historic (4th century) Nicene Creed which spells out so beautifully this Biblical truth:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic* and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

*catholic: universal, not “Roman Catholic”

While I must admit I do not understand all that there is to understand about this glorious Biblical truth, I am so glad that it does not deter me from falling on my knees and worshiping the Triune God, my Creator and Redeemer.

Tuesday Hymns: “The Law of God is Good and Wise”

During our Sunday night worship service the members of the RPC congregation make the hymn selections, and last Sunday night a young man (I would guess about seven or eight) wanted to sing hymn # 150 in The Trinity Hymnal, “The Law of God is Good and Wise,” which is our Tuesday Hymn for this week (Thank you, Jonathan, you made a great selection).

It was written by Matthias Loy, a 19th century American Lutheran pastor and reminds us of important truths about God’s Law. First of all, he states very clearly that God’s Law “is good and wise and sets His will before our eyes.” God’s Law is very adept at showing us what is right and wrong, and what is sin and righteousness. However, Loy also reminds us of another very important truth: While God’s Law shows us the holiness of God and our own sin, “its holiness condemns us all; it dooms us for our sin to die and has no power to justify.”

Our only hope is to flee to Christ “who from the curse has set us free, and humbly worship at His throne, saved by His grace through faith alone.” Christ has kept the Law on our behalf, and experienced the wrath of God for our sins, that we might have life in His name.

The hymn is sung to the tune, ERHALT UNS, HERR, which is unfamiliar to most of us, but after a verse or two it is picked up easily.

The law of God is good and wise,
And sets His will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
And dooms to death when we transgress.

Its light of holiness imparts
The knowledge of our sinful hearts,
That we may see our lost estate
And seek deliverance ere too late.

To those who help in Christ have found
And would in works of love abound
It shows what deeds are His delight
And should be done as good and right.

When men the offered help disdain
And willfully in sin remain,
Its terror in their ear resounds
And keeps their wickedness in bounds.

The law is good, but since the fall
Its holiness condemns us all;
It dooms us for our sin to die
And has no power to justify.

To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free,
And humbly worship at His throne,
Saved by His grace through faith alone.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans could be called the pinnacle of Paul’s teaching about the Gospel. For eleven chapters he waxes eloquently about sin, righteousness, judgment, death, substitution, justification, and the peace with God which comes through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in chapter twelve Paul begins to move from talking about the “indicative” to speaking of the “imperative.” He gives direction about how Christians should live out their lives together as a part of Christ’s church, and in the middle of a long litany of commands we find the following sentence, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

Paul’s command reminds us that at any particular time, if you are a member of a church of any size at all, that you will find people on both ends of this continuum. There will be people who will be on the “top of the world.” All will be rosy. There is money in the bank. Their cars don’t seem to break down and their tires wear evenly. Their kids will be healthy, have straight teeth, make good grades at school, be elected to student council, have good, solid friends, and their service provider will never, ever drop any of their cell phone calls. I have been there. I have sat around the open fire and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

However, at the same time, there will be people who will not be “experiencing their best life now.” They are a part of that group that Henry David Thoreau said “lead lives of quiet desperation.” They may be battling sickness. They may be battling financial disaster. They may be “walking in the valley of the shadow of death,” or, even worse, wishing they were “walking in the valley of the shadow of death.” Like an Alaskan winter, the sun never shows its face but for a moment here or there. The Psalms of lament seem to be the passages of Scripture that they read again and again. I have been there, also.

Furthermore, Paul says we are to minister to each of these groups of people. The first group is easy, “Rejoice with them.” Don’t be jealous of them, but be truly thankful that they are experiencing some respite in this fallen world in which we must learn to make our way. Pray for them to appreciate the blessings of God, and not forget Him during their times of exuberance.

Ministering to the other group is a little more challenging. Sometimes we don’t even know who they are since people are so adept at hiding their pain. (That is why it is important to pray for everyone because we may not know what dragons they are attempting to slay away from that Sunday Morning worship service.) However, when we find someone weeping; we should “Weep with them.” They may not want advice. They may not even need someone to fix their problem. They just need someone to cry with them, and feel the pain that they are feeling, because as the old Swedish proverb says, “A joy shared is a double joy, and a sorrow shared is half a sorrow.”

And, never forget the words of Jesus, our Lord, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Tuesday Hymns: “O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire”

There are some great new hymns out there for Christ’s Church to sing when we gather to worship Him. Keith and Kristyn Getty’s,In Christ Alone,” is one of them. Another is a hymn that we sang Sunday entitled, The Power of the Cross,” by the same couple. The hymns make a clear presentation of the Gospel and the glory of Christ, and enable us to look beyond ourselves to the grace of Christ as our “only comfort in life and death.”

However, our Tuesday Hymn of the Week comes not from the last decade, or even the last millennium; it was composed in the late 7th or early 8th century by an anonymous Christian. “O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire,” speaks to us of Christ as our Creator, our Redeemer, our Lasting Joy, and our Everlasting Reward. Christ is presented as “redemption’s only spring” (which speaks of His exclusivity) and as our Substitute which took our sins upon Himself that we “might be set free” (which speaks of His Substitutionary Atonement).

It is sung to the familiar tune, BRADFORD, by one of my favorite composers, George Frederick Handel.

O Christ, our Hope, our heart’s Desire,
Redemption’s only Spring!
Creator of the world art Thou,
Its Savior and its King.

How vast the mercy and the love
Which laid our sins on Thee,
And led Thee to a cruel death,
To set Thy people free.

But now the bands of death are burst,
The ransom has been paid,
And Thou art on Thy Father’s throne,
In glorious robes arrayed.

O may Thy mighty love prevail
Our sinful souls to spare;
O may we come before Thy throne,
And find acceptance there!

O Christ, be Thou our lasting Joy,
Our ever great Reward!
Our only glory may be it be
To glory in the Lord.

All praise to Thee, ascended Lord;
All glory ever be
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Through all eternity.