‘It’s coming home, it’s coming home’ – now there’s a song!

14 07 2012

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN : 1 Chronicles 15 v. 1 – 16 v. 36; Romans 16 v. 1 – 27; Psalm 90 v. 11 – 17

1 CHRONICLES
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem – Having completed the necessary building work in the ‘City of David’, King David ‘prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it’. He reminds the people that only Levites can carry the ark – they are the Lord’s appointed.
David summoned the great assembly of all Israel. The descendants of Aaron and the Levites; Zadok and Abiathar the priests and the Levite leaders are commissioned as ‘the heads of the Levitical families’. They are to consecrate themselves in readiness to bring the ark.
‘It is because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us.’
So, the Levites do as instructed – they consecrate themselves and then bring the ark, carrying it on poles on their shoulders – everything in accordance with the word of the Lord.
David instructed the Levites to appoint their brothers as musicians and singers, ‘to sing joyful songs’.
Heman’s family are chosen, and he, Asaph and Ethan played the cymbals; other named relatives played the lyres (‘according to alamoth’) and harps (‘according to sheminith. Kenaniah, the head Levite, led the singing, ‘because he was skillful at it’.
The doorkeepers for the ark (like chief bouncers) are named, as are the trumpeters.
So David leads the procession with the elders of Israel, bringing the ark of the covenant from Obed-Edom. To thank God for all the help He’s given the Levites who carry the ark, seven bulls and seven rams are sacrificed.
David, the Levites and all the singers wear robes of fine linen (David wearing a linen ephod, too).
The procession is accompanied by shouts, sounding the rams’ horns, trumpets, cymbals, lyres and harps – what a joyful procession !

‘As the ark of the covenant was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart’.

There will always be those who cannot, or will not, join in the procession and the celebration – and the very show of joy and jubilation will make their heart harder, the resentment deepen. Michal had been David’s first wife, until Saul married her off to another – it is a story of damage and of being caught in the crossfire between Saul and David….

The ark is placed in the tent David has prepared for it – burnt offerings and fellowship offerings are sacrificed, and the people are blessed by David ‘in the name of the Lord’, and then they feasted with bread, date-cake and raisins.
Some of the Levites are appointed to ‘minister before the ark’ : ‘to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel’ – an outpouring of prayer and praise.
The music and singing continued on and on – led by Asaph, Zechariah and others – the cymbals and trumpets sounding over and over again ‘before the ark of the covenant of God’.
What a celebration!

David’s Psalm of Thanks
On this great day of celebration, David led a song of praise, which Asaph and others were to learn / lead.

Give thanks to God  – shout His name – tell the world about all the great things He has done.
Sing, sing, sing praise to Him – sing of His wonderful acts.
Bring glory to His name – rejoice and sing, all you whose hearts seek the Lord.
Look to Him – seek His strength, His favour, now and forever.
Bring to mind all the wonderful things He has done – His miracles, His wisdom, His judgement.
Come on, all Israel, sons of Jacob, chosen ones.

He is the Lord over all the earth – God and Judge of all.
He stands by His covenant eternally – His commands, His word last forever and ever.
The covenant with Abraham, the commitment to Isaac, the confirmation to Jacob, the everlasting promise to Israel – He stands by it continually:
‘You will inherit the land of Canaan as your portion’.

Though very small in number, God’s people, strangers in the land,
went from nation to nation unharmed,
from kingdom to kingdom undefeated
‘Do not touch my anointed ones; keep your hands off my prophets’, He declared.

Come on everyone, everywhere – all the world sing to the Lord.
Sing of His saving power and grace, day after day.
Tell all the nations of His glorious, marvellous deeds.
FOR GREAT IS THE LORD AND MOST WORTHY OF PRAISE
above and beyond all gods – awesome God.
All other gods are false idols – it is the Lord our God who created everything.
SPLENDOUR AND MAJESTY ARE BEFORE HIM – STRENGTH AND JOY IN HIS DWELLING-PLACE.

Sing of His glory – sing of His strength – let all the nations know.
Sing of the Lord’s glory – bring your offering before Him.
WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE SPLENDOUR OF HIS HOLINESS.
All the earth will shake, tremble before Him.
His creation is firmly established, unmovable – the heavens rejoice, the earth is filled with gladness.
‘He reigns, He rules; the Lord reigns’ – is the song for the nations.
Let the sea resound – the fields rejoice – and everything in them.
The trees in the forest will sing for joy
THEY WILL SING FOR JOY BEFORE THE LORD, FOR HE COMES TO JUDGE THE EARTH.

GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, FOR HE IS GOOD
HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
Cry out to Him, ‘Rescue and deliver us, O God our Saviour – gather us and protect us –
and we will forever thank You, praising Your holy name, giving You glory and praise.
PRAISE BE TO THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING.’

O how the people sang out their ‘AMEN’, and ‘PRAISE THE LORD’.
What an amazing day, a true celebration; how they abandoned themselves to praise, worship and rejoicing in the faithfulness of God.
And a pretty amazing song of praise from David.

ROMANS
Personal Greetings – Paul concludes this magnificent letter to the Roman Christians with a list of personal messages.
He begins by recommending Phoebe to them – she is ‘a servant of the church in Cenchrea….receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need…she has been a great help to many people, including me.’
Priscilla and Aquila get a mention as people who ‘risked their lives for me’. All the Galatian churches thank God for them.
There is a house church meeting in their home, whom Paul greets.
Paul mentions Epenetus, the first Christian convert in Asia.
Mary – a hard worker.
Andronicus and Junias – Paul’s fellow-prisoners (‘outstanding among the apostles…they were in Christ before I was’)
Ampiatus – whom Paul loves
Urbanus and Stachys. Apelles – who has been tested in Christ.
The households of Aristobulus and Narcissus.
Paul’s relative, Herodian.
The Lord’s hardworking women, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis.
Rufus and his mother (‘who has been like a mother to me’)
And another group of brothers, and a sister too, are greeted – ‘Olympas and all the saints with them’
‘Greet one another with a holy kiss’
The greetings sent and received are in the context of  ‘all the churches of Christ’.

Paul, in desiring real unity amongst the church, urges them to ‘watch out for those who cause divisions’, and those who set traps or put obstacles in the way, teaching falsely. He advises them to keep well away from people like that. They are feeding their own desires and appetites, ‘not serving our Lord Christ’.
Paul observes how people use ‘smooth talk and flattery’ to deceive the naive. There is a danger of people being too easily taken in and carried along by those who are feeding their own egos, and pressing their own agendas, rather than submitting to the Lord.
However, ‘everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you’. He urges them evermore towards wisdom (in identifying what is good) and innocence (about what is evil).

The good news is that Satan is being crushed, defeated by the ‘God of peace’. The battle will be completely won.
Meanwhile, there is grace abundant in the Lord Jesus Christ, alongside us, with us.

Paul sends greetings from Timothy (‘my fellow-worker’), and from his relatives, Lucius, Jason and Sosipater. Paul’s writer / scribe, Tertius adds his own greeting, too. Gaius (a man of generous hospitality) and Erastus (‘the city’s director of public works’), and Quartus also get a mention.

Paul concludes his letter with a glorious doxology:

NOW TO HIM WHO IS ABLE
TO ESTABLISH YOU BY MY GOSPEL
AND THE PROCLAMATION OF JESUS CHRIST
ACCORDING TO THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY
HIDDEN FOR LONG AGES PAST,
BUT NOW REVEALED AND MADE KNOWN THROUGH THE PROPHETIC WRITINGS
BY THE COMMAND OF THE ETERNAL GOD
SO THAT ALL NATIONS MIGHT BELIEVE AND OBEY HIM –
TO THE ONLY WISE GOD
BE GLORY FOR EVER
THROUGH JESUS
CHRIST.
AMEN.

Glorious, glorious, glorious words with which to end a glorious letter / book.

PSALM
My Lord and my God
who can know Your power, Your righteous anger.
Your great wrath is equal to the great fear You inspire.
Teach us to mark our days wisely, spending time on what will strengthen our hearts with wisdom.

Turn again, my Lord, my God,
to pour Your compassion out upon Your people.
Don’t delay.
Morning by morning, may Your unending love satisfy us completely.
Every moment of every day, may we sing with utter joy and happiness.
May the days of our gladness outnumber the days of trial and affliction.
May Your people see Your goodness, and tell of Your splendour to every generation.
My Lord, my God, may Your favour rest upon us –
make our lives fruitful
yes – make our work for You fruitful.
AMEN.

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