He has set us apart Psalm 4

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those disciplined in God’s Word in Scripture said … AMEN!

Erin Go Bragh,

David is credited with writing Psalm 4. I believe David wrote these Psalms. Do I believe he wrote them as a young man out in the pastures watching over the sheep? It’s possible. All we know about David I wouldn’t be surprised he wrote in this romanticized view. No doubt David was very devout, he knew Yahweh in a way unlike the rarest person, a handful in all of history knew God as David knew him.

Saint Benedict emphasized the importance of the Psalms in the daily life of the monastery as a discipline for monks. There are certainly spiritual disciplines. As there are disciplines in the routine in your daily life. They may seem rote, “boring”, but when we don’t practice those disciplines, we are not as effective, or effective at all. In the Coast Guard we spent much time training, over and over the fundaments, things that we would often do in cases. We were doing those things so they were hardcoated into our brains, do them automatically. The more automatic the more effective for those we are helping and the safer for all of us. Discipline in this age is seen as tedious and boring, when was the last time you reread the Bible, or have you ever read it completely? In seminary I read most of the Bible in the original language, Hebrew or Greek and I try to go back to that, to better understand God’s Word and be disciplined in His Word. Your physician practices regular disciplines in order for him to be better in healing and improving the health of his patients. Dr Luther referred to pastors as Seel Sorgers, soul healers , to be better at addressing the spiritual problems of those in need. As a police chaplain in York, dealing with gritty situations, spiritual disciplines would pop into my head at those times it was important for the comfort of a parent, spouse, of someone who had just died at 2am. At times like those, you don’t run to a reference book, there isn’t anyone available at 2am to help you with a parent whose 20 something child just committed suicide, whose spouse just committed suicide, whose young child was molested by a relative, whose child just died from a heroin overdose. You have to be prepared to help those people at the point of their need. No one expects anyone here to be an expert on spiritual counseling, but when you have acquired a level of Christian discipline that you can give someone comfort and peace in Jesus, then you will be serving those around you in their need. Too often people flounder around when that moment of truth comes in many situations, they’ve never really devoted themselves to any discipline, to any genuine means of serving and saving. I’ve been blessed to have a lot of people keep me disciplined and focused in order to serve those around me. I started in the Coast Guard when I was seventeen. At the time not appreciating my boot camp instructors. Not really understanding how much more disciplined they had to be in order to keep me disciplined and alive. I’ve known guys who have lost people they were responsible for training. Were they disciplined enough, did they insist on that person being sufficiently disciplined? It’s heart-wrenching to watch a fellow Coast Guardsman go through such trauma. In one of my doctoral classes we read The Benedict Option. The author’s main point is that to make it as Christians, we have to be more disciplined in a world that is becoming more antagonistic to Christians. We have to be monks in order to truly serve ourselves, our family, those around us we care for and ultimately how we serve Christ. We act as though 2-3 times per month of an hour of worship is sufficient for anything. Then we wonder why we really don’t feel God’s working or presence in our life. Face it, what does He really have to work with for most people? People who aren’t disciplined enough to take time daily to pray and wait on God. To truly understand His Word in Scripture. To reach out to others to help them see Christ and to be saved in Him, at least discipling their own children. The psalms were written by a man who was incredibly disciplined. He fought numerous battles. To survive all that he was involved in so that his country, Israel, guided by God would grow, David had to be immensely disciplined. He was a disciplined soldier, leader, musician, composer. He failed, seems many great men achieve greatly often fail greatly. But his words, numerous in the Psalms, are read and appreciated today over 3,000 years since he wrote them. That could never happen unless he was incredibly disciplined and hard working. When you read the life of St Patrick you see how incredibly disciplined and dedicated to his mission work in Ireland. He faced huge obstacles to bring Christ to what was a dark country at the time. That became a fortress of faith and the disciplined maintaining of Christianity during the dark ages of Europe. The dalmatic I’m wearing is called a “Book of Kells” dalmatic. Kells is the Abbey in Ireland that produced some of the finest works of literature and teaching in Christianity circa the 9th century.

In a follow up article to the book the Benedict Option by Rod Dreher. he writes: “…If the church is going to be the blessing for the world that God means it to be, then it is going to have to spend more time away from the world deepening its commitment to God, to scripture, to tradition and to each other. [A physician becomes proficient when he has spent numerous hours in study, being guided by teachers. We become proficient as a church when we learn to work, grow and support each other.] We cannot give to the world what we do not have. [Too many in the church don’t have a fundamental understanding of Christian life, they’re not in a position to guide others as a Christian] We should engage with the world, but not at the expense of our fidelity and sense of ourselves as a people set apart. [No one is sent out in a cold, stormy night in January to rescue someone who was not trained sufficiently. That is a recipe for getting killed. Likewise we can’t rely on people in the church, who have no understanding of who they are] We do need monks in today’s world. Ross Douthat noted, another writer observed “…It sure seems like there are a lot of monks in this book.” Douthat’s response was “…we don’t exactly have a surplus of monks in the United States…”[1] No one expects anyone to be cloistered in a monastery. But in our readings in the Psalms, we see an example of a highly disciplined man writing them, and of highly disciplined men and women following St Benedict’s teaching of faithfully reading and living the Psalms. King David was not the pinnacle of virtue, but if your son grew to be a man as disciplined, talented and accomplished as David, you would consider yourself a success. In Psalm 4, David writes about the dysix’ man in verse 4, in Hebrew meaning: “faithful, kind, godly, holy one, saint, pious”[2] There are “Hasidic” Jews refered to as “Hasids” holy ones. Patrick Henry Reardon writes: “This adjective, Hasid, is used … 21 times in the Book of Psalms…strongly suggesting …prayer and praise of God are a major component of the biblical doctrine of holiness. One cannot live a worldly life and still expect to pray the psalms. The Psalter has nothing to say to the worldly, it is not for the unconverted, the unrepentant. It is, rather, the prayer book of those who strive for holiness of life and the unceasing praise of God.”[3] Certainly this is exemplified in such a great man as David,  as Saint Patrick as the men who wrote the Book of Kells, the monks and Saints who have brought Christ to the world in all sorts of difficult circumstances, much as we face today in Christ. David’s Son, Jesus, the ultimate of holiness God the Son who endured all the torture the world could dish out so that we would be completely holy, saved in Him and His church. We need to act accordingly. Now, “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine be warm upon your face, May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again May God hold you in the palm of his hand. The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

[1] Ross Douthat  “Plough Quarterly” Summer 2017 p72

[2] Bible works translation of KJV word “Godly”

[3] Patrick Henry Reardon “Christ in the Psalms” p 7

 

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