Monday, September 30, 2013

Psalm 36:7-9

Yesterday I was reading Psalm 36 and verses 7-9 jumped out at me.  I think they are such a beautiful, poetic description of God's love for us:

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

I once painted a couple of versions of verse 7-9 on ceramic panels.  Here is the larger version:

God the Father is shown at the top as a winged cloud, under whose wings people of all eras, cultures and races rejoice.  I used a cloud to represent God as Israel's deliverer from Egypt, set into an Egyptian/Near Eastern winged motif.  Christ stands at the top center underneath the cloud, with his nail-marked hands open in welcome (in this case I think that I hadn't yet painted the nail marks red).  Water gushes from Him in streams, cascading down over those who are rejoicing around him (streams of water emanating from a god was also a common Near Eastern motif).  The streams of water continue downward to the next register, as more people rejoice, frolic and “drink from the river of [God's] delights.”  The overall style of the piece is based on Egyptian art, though the figure of Christ and the gushing water is based more on Assyrian and Babylonian art.  The scene also references John 4:14.

Regarding contextualization, the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament writes of verse 8 and the "river of delights":

Since the word translated "delights" has the same root letters Eden, there is possibly a reference to the waters flowing out of paradise in this phrase.  The association between ancient Near Eastern temples and spring waters is well attested.  In fact some temples in Mesopotamia, Egypt and the Ugaritic myth of Baal were considered to have been founded on springs (likened to the primeval waters), which sometimes flowed from the building itself [see Revelation 22:1].  This would explain the parallel between God's house in the first part of the verse and these rivers (see Ezekiel 47).  (p. 527)

I love the repetition of chesed ("steadfast love") in this Psalm (v. 5, 7 and 10).  Chesed is the glue that binds us to God, and won't ever let go!  It is His "loving devotion in which God binds Himself to His people. It indicates His lovingkindness toward those with whom He is in covenant relationship."  God passionately and deeply loves us, and will furiously strike down all other idols in our hearts.

The Creator is the God of Freedom– He sets us free from spiritual death, destruction, fear, slavery to sin, etc.  He does this through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, while His Holy Spirit enables us to have saving faith in Him so that we may experience His chesed love and all of His many blessings.

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