Wednesday, January 10, 2007

With One Voice: Reggie Kidd on Psalm 22

As we continue digesting Reggie Kidd's With One Voice, we come to his exposition of Psalm 22. Reggie covers some familiar territory here -- this is, after all, one of my favorite psalms to use during the Holy Week observances. It eerily prefigures what would happen to Christ on the cross. It is also a Psalm I use for comfort -- when I'm in deep distress, it helps me greatly to know that David was quite free in crying out to God "My God, My God why have you forsaken me". We have liberty to bring our anguish and disappointment and confusion to God. And strangely what happens for David, and what often happens for me, is that God uses the very act of crying out to bring healing and comfort -- thus the second half of the Psalm dealing with the feast celebrating God's deliverance.

Reggie does bring up one very important factor that I hadn't considered before about this Psalm: the people who are invited to the celebration. He points out the counterbalancing sets: Israelites and the nations, the poor and the rich, the dead and the not yet born.

With the first set of Israelites and the nations, Reggie brings up the old Biblical truth of God's design to bless the nations and have them all come under the banner of Christ. He describes this theme as a "whisper" in the Old Testament, and this instance being one of the whispers.

The second set caught my attention -- the poor and the rich will be at the feast. I'm so used to churchly criticisms of the rich, that it's almost startling to hear that yes, there are indeed some God fearing rich folk who will be welcomed at the feast. Reggie is quick to remind us that there are other plenty of scriptures that warn against "satedness" and self satisfaction in wealth and riches. However, this little picture shows us that grace will indeed be extended to the wealthy as well.

Then the third set started ringing my bell. I've spent the better half of 2006 making a case for our covenant responsibilities to one another across the generations, and here Reggie takes it even further. Both the dead and the not yet born also have a place at the table. “In Christ, the dead and the living make up one community of praise....David understood that whenever any of us comes along in the timeline, and from whatever angle, we are there to serve those who come after us. The yet-to-be are part of our song as well as those who have died in God.” (83) This thought alone could fill up a whole series of blog posts -- in what ways do we truly give our antecedents a place at the table -- do we truly honor the faith of the saints of the past, or do we pay it lip service so that we can inhabit their house and plunder their riches for our own gain. In like manner, do we truly think ahead for the next generation, or do we concern ourselves with sating our present needs, with no heed for the long term viability of culture or the church. How much do we really see ourselves in continuity with the saints of the past and future-- and more importantly, is our continuity based in our shared song of praise? Good stuff here, Reggie!

“In a sense Psalm 22 is the theological center of the book of Psalms. Like Israel’s pilgrimage it begins in lonliness and dejection and ends, on the far side of God’s miraculous intervention in comradeship and elation.” (86) Reggie sums up here by turning to the heart once again -- I would have liked stories of how David's (and Christ's) song have tangibly brought comfort to some beloved saint -- but that's not a serious flaw, just a stylistic preference. All told, this chapter presents us solid material, continuing on his Worship Theology of the Heart.

Soli Deo Gloria

With One Voice: The Singing Savior
With One Voice: The Psalms
With One Voice: David -- Israel's Sweet Singer and Architect of Praise