Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 107:1-16—Thanksgiving for Eternal Mercy—One of the most repeated phrases in the Psalter are the opening words of Psalm 107: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” The Lord’s mercy is His undeserved loving-kindness toward us sinners in His Son. It is the mercy of God that is the heart and core of our redemption. Psalm 107 calls the redeemed of the Lord to confess His mercy to everyone. He has delivered us by His mercy. He saves us by His mercy. Apart from His mercy we have no claim to any of the blessings of the Lord. Therefore, we confess His mercy to us as sinners before the world that others, too, may know, believe, and trust in His mercy. He has saved us from Satan. He rescues us from every distress. When we cry out to Him He answers us. He satisfies the longing soul with His good gifts. Even when He brought down the Children of Israel because of their rebellion and misbelief, He did so that they might return to His mercy as the fountain and source of their life. “Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”
Congregation at Prayer
January 31, 2021Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 106:24-48—A Meditation Upon God’s Mercy in Israel’s Rebellion—The second half of Psalm 106 is a meditation upon all the many ways that the Children of Israel had rebelled against the Lord. He had been their God and faithful Savior, and yet they so often refused to hear His Word. They defiled themselves by committing spiritual adultery with the nations around them. They brought oppression upon themselves because of their wayward ways. God’s wrath was justly kindled against them because of their rebellion. Their enemies oppressed them as instruments of God’s judgment against them. “Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled against Him by their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry; and for their sake He remembered His covenant, and relented according to the multitude of His mercies.” If it were not for the Lord’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace toward the children of Israel, their history would have been totally tragic and would have ended in utter despair. At no time did the Lord ever turn His back upon the remnant faithful who, with broken and contrite hearts, turned to Him. So we pray with our ancient brothers and sisters: “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles to give thanks to Your holy name, and to triumph in Your praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!”
January 24, 2021Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 106:1-23—A Prayer of Rejoicing in the Lord’s Forgiveness—Psalm 106 continues the theme of meditation upon the Lord’s saving acts in redeeming Israel from Egyptian slavery. In the previous psalm nothing was mentioned of Israel’s failure to trust in the Lord and in all He was doing for them. But in Psalm 106 there is a clear confession of their sin during the time of the Lord’s great deliverance from Egypt. Despite their doubts and fears, the Lord saved them for His name’s sake. He was faithful to His promises of love. Again and again, they went astray, again and again He called them to repentance and through the things they suffered because of their own weaknesses, they would learn to trust Him as their faithful God and Savior. This serves as an example and encouragement to us in our own pilgrimage of faith.
January 17, 2021Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 105:23-45—Thanksgiving for the Exodus out of Egypt—The second half of Psalm 105 chronicles all that the Lord did for Israel in the land of Egypt (Ham). He not only brought them into Egypt at the time of Joseph, but during their sojourn in Egypt He caused the children of Israel to increase greatly in number and made them stronger than their enemies. Though He caused the Egyptians to hate them, yet He used their hardness of heart and bitter treatment of Israel for His good purposes. The Lord God did everything for Israel. He sent the signs through Moses and Aaron. He visited His judgment upon Egypt through the plagues. He brought them out of Egypt with the spoils of gold and silver. He brought them through the Red Sea. He led them with His glory cloud in the wilderness. He fed them with manna from heaven, quail to eat, and water from the Rock to drink. He provided everything for them according to His promise made to Abraham. And for all His mighty works, His people respond with joy, gladness, and praise and keep His statutes and laws. What is most interesting about Psalm 105 is that it does not chronicle the doubts, fears, and rebellion of Israel throughout their sojourn, but rather focuses entirely upon what God did in grace for them.
January 10, 2021Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 105:1-22—A Song of Thankfulness for the Lord’s Faithfulness—Psalm 105 begins with a call to give thanks, confess the Lord’s deeds among His people, and to sing to Him for His faithfulness. The psalmist recounts the Lord’s faithfulness in calling Abraham to faith and in protecting and preserving the patriarchs throughout their sojourn in Canaan before they were established as a nation. According to His covenant with Abraham, the Lord blessed Abraham, causing His blessing to come upon those who blessed the patriarchs and protecting the patriarchs from those who would do them harm. “Do not touch My anointed ones and do My prophets no harm” was the Lord’s Word of protection around the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they sojourned in the land and settled in Egypt during the days of Joseph. Never did He abandon them but remained true to His promise of life and salvation for them. The same is true for us who are called by the Lord’s name in baptism and grafted into Christ Jesus, our righteousness, life, salvation, and protection from all harm.CP210110
January 3, 2021Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 104:16-35—Luther on Psalm 104—“The 104th psalm is a psalm of thanks for all the works that God had accomplished in heaven and on earth, beyond those done for us here on earth. He has surely ordered all things according to a wise place to produce works, fruits, and crops. The psalmist recounts these one after the other: the heavens—full of light and outstretched as a tapestry without post or rafters; the clouds—an arch without foundation or pillar; the wind flying without wings; the angels going and coming, appearing like a wind or a flame. Thus sings the psalmist. He finds his desires and joy in God’s creations, which are so wonderfully made and so beautifully ordered together. But who pays attention to this or sees that this is so? Only faith and the Spirit.”—from Reading the Psalms with Luther. CP210103
December 27, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 104:1-15—Psalm of Praise to the Glory of God who Provides Daily Bread—Everything that we need God provides. This is the fundamental teaching of the First Article of the Creed and the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. How often are we assaulted by the temptation NOT to trust in the Lord God who is the Creator and Provider of all things needful AND our Savior from sin. The first portion of psalm 104 begins as Psalm 103 began, the psalmists own prayer that his soul would bless the Lord because the Lord is great, clothed with honor and majesty, and as the One who orders both the temporal and the spiritual realm. He created the angels. He laid the foundation of the earth. The creation is ordered and sustained by His will. He provides the water to replenish the earth and sustain all of life. He is the One who sends springs of water, gives every beast of the field to drink, and sustains the birds of the air. Reliance, dependence, confidence, and joy in the Lord is the faith to which Psalm 104 calls us. We need this psalm more than ever as our world rejects the ongoing creative and sustaining work of God in His creation in favor of a godless, man-centered, naturalistic worldview. Let us not be afraid. God will provide us with daily bread. Let us pray that we would learn to believe this and to receive all of our daily bread with thanksgiving, for He brings “forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”CP201227
December 20, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 103—A Prayer in Praise of the Lord’s Mercy—From the depths of his being, David calls upon his own soul and all that is within him to bless the Lord for the Lord’s mercy and for every benefit that he receives from the grace of God. The Lord forgives all iniquity. He heals all diseases. He redeems one’s life from destruction. He crowns the believer with loving kindness and tender mercies. He satisfies us with good things. He renews our life. All of this flows from the mercy of God in Christ our Redeemer. In Jesus God has executed righteousness and worked justice for all who were oppressed by sin and death. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy which He so freely and faithfully made known to Moses and the children of Israel. Though He afflicts us, He, nevertheless, lets go of His anger and does not punish us as we deserve. His mercy is as different from the world’s concept of mercy as the heavens are high above the earth. His forgiveness means that He has removed our transgressions from us, like a father who pities his children. The Lord knows that we are made from dust. We will flower but soon wither and fade. But His mercy endures forever, from everlasting to everlasting. All angelic ministers in heaven and earth bless the Lord and do His pleasure as they proclaim the excellencies of His love in the preaching of the Gospel.
December 13, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 102:12-28—A Prayer to Rely Upon the Goodness of the Lord Under Affliction—The Lord does not abandon or forsake the promises He has made to His children, even though He lays affliction on our backs. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins and bad choices. Sometimes we suffer through no direct fault of our own, but simply because we are part of this fallen world. In every instance, we are called to see our afflictions as an instrument of the Lord through which He intends to draw us closer to Himself, or to teach us the mysteries of His grace that we cannot learn in any other way but through the things under which we suffer. So, a pastoral prayer gives voice to what should be the prayer of every Christian: “Comfort us, O God, with Your Holy Spirit that we may patiently endure our afflictions and acknowledge them as a manifestation of Your fatherly will. Preserve us from faintheartedness and despondency, and help us to seek You, the great physician of our souls.” The second half of Psalm 102 draws us into this understanding of the Christian life, by confessing that the Lord endures forever, and the remembrance of His mercy continues throughout the generations. He is the One who builds up Zion, the Church. All the nations shall see this. He regards the prayer of the destitute and afflicted. He looks down from the height of His sanctuary to give help to His children. When He weakens our strength or shortens our days upon the earth, He does so for His kind and loving purposes that will serve for our ultimate good. The Lord’s abiding faithfulness to those who belong to Him is expressed at the center of the psalm: “This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” and at the psalm’s conclusion, “You are the same, and your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.” CP201213
December 6, 2020Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 102:1-13—A Prayer for Those Weary of Sin — “The 102nd psalm is a psalm of prayer. In it the fathers of old—weary of laws, of sins, and of death—wholeheartedly yearn and call for the kingdom of grace promised in Christ. They ask that God yet again build up Zion and set in place her stones and dust, that He would yet again enter in and let His glory be seen in all kingdoms, that He would rescue His captives from sin and death so that they may come together and thank Him—that is, that they may worship Him in the true Zion—and the Old Testament come to an end.
“For without Christ there is indeed nothing but strength broken in the middle of life and days cut short, that is, a miserable, short, wretched life from which the psalmist is reluctantly removed. But in His kingdom is eternal life, and His time has no end. He is the one who was before He created heaven and earth, and will again change and renew them. Therefore, He is outside of and over all time. His year has no end and there is no dying there. This kingdom we will gladly receive. May such a kingdom, Your kingdom, come! Amen.” From Reading the Psalms with Luther, CPH