Psalm 92. Bara and Shabbat. Create and Rest.


Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 92. (MsgB)

A Sabbath Song

What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to You, the High God!
To announce Your love each daybreak,sing Your faithful presence all through the night,
Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings.

 Such witnesses to upright God! My Mountain, my huge, holy Mountain!


Interestingly, Psalm 92 is the only psalm of the entire 150 recorded for us in the Bible that specifically states that it is a song written for the Sabbath. What’s even more curious is that Psalm 92 is the only one that contains the word Sabbath, even though that same word appears at least sixty times in the remainder of the Old Testament!

As you probably know, the concept of Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew), or Day of Rest, is an important component in both Jewish and Christian circles. The tradition of taking one day out of each seven and giving it back to God originates from the earliest sections of the Book of Genesis. There we find our Creator-King pulling all of creation together over a period of six days. Now, keep in mind that to our out-of-this-world God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. So, as I see it, when Moses records for us that all of the universe (including our planet) was created in six days, I’m guessing that he was simplifying the story a bit for us dimwitted earth-dwellers. Today, after thousands of years of human study, we now realize that this amazing creation crafted by the hand of God apparently took millions and millions of earth-years.

But suffice to say that on Day Seven, or the span of time following God’s holy creative romp through our universe, Yahweh took a well-deserved, elongated break from His labors, kicking back on His kingly throne to truly take-in and enjoy the scenery He had just assembled.

Thus we have Shabbat. Sabbath. A Day of Rest. Which now brings us to yet another very important Hebrew word found early on in the Book of Genesis.

Bara.

In Hebrew, Bara translates as our English word create. But here’s the rub. In English, both God and man can ‘create’ things, but in Hebrew, only God can ‘bara’. Why, you ask? Because in biblical thought, while man can create something new out of something that already exists, only Yahweh can bara something out of absolutely nothing. In other words, when Genesis 1 and 2 state that God ‘bara-ed’ for six straight days, Moses was telling us that He was creating things as only God can do. God-breathed something out of absolutely nothing!

So after six days of ‘bara-ing’, Genesis 2: 3 states that God, the Great Creator, blessed the seventh day (Shabbat), and hallowed it, setting it aside on His calendar because it will forever commemorate the season of rest God gave Himself after six long days of ‘bara-ing’ our universe out of the empty abyss!

So now, back to Psalm 92. The Song for Shabbat.

What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks, to sing an anthem to You, the High God!
To announce Your love each daybreak,sing Your faithful presence all through the night,
Accompanied by dulcimer and harp, the full-bodied music of strings.

As a musician, I love to think of God’s Story of Creation (Bara and Shabbat) this way.

God, the Master Composer, has just written His most beautiful symphony. He’s gathered all of us into His Holy Orchestra Hall to conduct for the first time His Masterpiece. It’s a simple tune written in a basic 4/4 meter, but the results are stunningly magnificent.

Shhh.

The lights are dimming. The curtain is going up. God, the Master Conductor/Composer walks onto the stage. The angelic crowd applauds wildly. God takes His customary bow and then looks over His full orchestra. Jesus, as first chair violinist, rises to give the orchestra His perfect tuning pitch of A. Once the musicians have tuned their instruments, the Master Creator steps up onto His podium, raises His baton and now, we’re ready to experience, for the first time, The Masterpiece (Genesis). The baton drops. Oh, and if you’d like to see The Score God is conducting from, here it is…

GENESIS: IN THE BEGINNING

/             /           /           /

Bara.   Bara.   Bara.   Bara.

/             /           /         /

Bara.   Bara.    Shabbat.

Oh, excuse me. Would you like to see the Master’s Score in English?

GENESIS: IN THE BEGINNING

/               /              /              /

Create.  Create. Create. Create.

/               /               /          /

Create.  Create.    Rest.

And there you have it. The Grand Symphony that started it all. Maybe that’s why the Psalmist thought it wise to include Psalm 92 (A Song for The Sabbath) in his collection of symphonic tunes?

Whadayathink?

My prayer: Holy Creator, I celebrate all You have ‘bara’ed’ and I want to become much better in this lifetime honoring Your Holy Work by living out Shabbat in a more respectful way. Only You can create something out of nothing and I applaud Your magnificent Symphony. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Am I fully appreciative of all God did when He ‘bara’ed’ the universe out of nothing? How am I guilty of not honoring Shabbat (Sabbath) on a weekly basis? What might it look like to step up my respect for this holy command to honor both Bara and Shabbat in my day-to-day life?

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.

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