Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 99. (MsgB)
God rules. On your toes, everybody!
He rules from His angel throne—take notice!
God looms majestic in Zion,
He towers in splendor over all the big names.
Great and terrible Your beauty: let everyone praise You!
Holy. Yes, holy.
Strong King, lover of justice,
You laid things out fair and square;
You set down the foundations in Jacob,
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Honor God, our God; worship His rule!
Holy. Yes, holy.
As I see it, Psalm 99 must have been composed by a singing bricklayer.
Who else would spend so much time talking about foundation stones, just and true settings, and the fair and square cornerstone laid by God way back at the beginning of time?
For those who study architecture, the foundation stone, or cornerstone of a building, is the key to building a successful structure. Great care must be used in setting a cornerstone. Today, we hold big celebrations, inviting mayors, presidents, and bigwig executives to lay cornerstones in our important buildings. But back in the day, a cornerstone was so much more than just a ceremonial brick. To the singing bricklayer who wrote Psalm 99, a foundation stone had to be carefully cut and laid into position. If the cornerstone laid in place by the builders was not true and plumb, all kinds of structural problems could happen as that building went up.
Like-wise, think of all of the problems that develop in our world when we place our weight and trust on foundations other than our solid God.
Jesus made a big deal of this foundation stone stuff as well. Remember over in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 7, Jesus tells us His story about the two men who built their homes upon the two different foundations? The one who built his dream house on the shifting sand ended up with one big nightmare, while the dude who used the solid rock for his foundation, never lost a night’s sleep, even during the rainy season.
The truth is…Jewish folks seem to know a lot about cornerstones. On my recent trip to Jerusalem I discovered a lot about foundation stones and how important they were to men and women of the Bible.
Take King David, writer of many of the Psalms, for example. To him, the Foundation Stone was simply an outcropping of rock located atop a mountain the Bible calls Moriah.
Today, this same spot has become the holiest site in all of Judaism. Ancient Roman writings call it the navel of the world. The birthplace of all creation.
Ancient Jewish writings call it the Rock that was first formed when God said, “Let there be earth,” believing that a pile of dirt lying close to this holy spot was the dust God used to form Adam. This is the place where Father Abraham was tested, bringing his son Isaac to sacrifice his life in worship to God (Genesis 22). And this is the location where Jacob slept on the night he envisioned angels ascending and descending on a ladder dropped down from Heaven (Genesis 28).
But centuries later, this holy spot had become the threshing floor of a Jebusite, a Canaanite man the scriptures call Oman or Araunah.In the books of Samuel, we find King David purchasing this land, and it was here he both offered his sacrificial worship and instructed his son, Solomon, to build the first temple in 950 BC. Tradition tells us that it was here, the Foundational Stone, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. A holy spot where God met with His people.
Today, this same Foundational Stone so holy to the Jewish faith is located directly under the Dome of the Rock. For Muslims, this same Rock was the place the prophet Mohammad visited in his Night Journey, and the prophesied location where the Final Trumpet will sound. In 691 AD, Muslims built the Dome of the Rock to protect the Foundation Stone, and ever since, this one small outcropping of rock has become the most sought after turf in human history.
Makes me wonder if God really wanted us to get so uptight about one physical piece of land? Especially when the Psalmist, the bricklayer who wrote Psalm 99, envisioned God, and God alone, as the Foundational Stone on whom to build our lives?
No. While I appreciate this outcropping of rock located in the center of Jerusalem, I’m guessing that I’m gonna side with Paul who said it very clearly in his letter to the Corinthian church.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1st Corinthians 3: 11
Sounds pretty solid to me. Don’t you think?
My prayer: Father, on Your Christ, the solid Rock, I stand. All other ground, including the famed Foundational Stone in Jerusalem, is shifting sand. While I honor the past, acknowledging the importance of this holy place in the history of the world, I choose to build my house on the unshakeable, unchangeable Truth known as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. For His Name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How have I built parts of my life on faulty or lessor foundations than Jesus of Nazareth? Where am I putting my faith and trust? On foundations laid by others? Or at the feet of religious traditions? What might it look like for me to tear down my faulty towers to self and human achievement and rebuild my life only on the Foundational Stone known as God’s Only Begotten Son?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!