Day 38: Thursday, 18 April
A Song of degrees.
1 Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord;
that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands:
happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house:
thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed
that feareth the Lord.
5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion:
and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children,
and peace upon Israel.
A short psalm that is packed with content. Fear means respect, honour and reverence, knowing your place. God is an awesome god. He is the only God. He demands the bowing of our knees before him. Stay in his shadow, learn his ways, get close, and you will understand them better. Your life and labour will be blessed, as will your home and family.
The journey to Jerusalem is important to the great number of pilgrims who make their way there from all across the world (see the list of countries mentioned in Acts 2:7-11). Blessing from God could only come through the priests who worked in the Temple. This could not be obtained in the local synagogue.
Pilgrimage was a central part of life. We may wonder at pilgrimage today, as the veil of the Temple was split at Jesus’ death, and blessing comes directly from God in Jesus, who lives in us where we are by his Holy Spirit. Certainly, the appropriation of pilgrimage as a money tool to hit people with was evident in Jesus’ day (the Temple money-changers), common in medieval times, and still continues in largely Catholic countries.
There is still something to be said for committing to making a journey to a special place of significance as an outward act of seeking renewal (I avoid including penitence, as repentance trumps penitence). Though not particularly to my taste, there are sites that commemorate an event or hold some mortal remains of past brothers and sisters in faith, and the connection they offer may help strengthen faith.
Our nearest place of pilgrimage is Walsingham, which has both a Catholic and an Anglican shrine. It’s an interesting place. That the Lord does and shall bless us in Christ through his Holy Spirit reminds me that I do not need to go on pilgrimages to find God. I may, however, wish along with others to make a public pronouncement of my faith in, say, walking around the area the church is situated.
How ready is your church to do a walk of witness in its neighbourhood?
How would you prepare the ground?
Father God, I know that I am called to share my faith. It would be easier if it already overflowed from me. Join my spirit with your Holy Spirit that I may cry out, ‘Abba, Father’ in response to knowing your love, your grace, your mercy, your fatherhood. Amen.
Sons of Korah
From The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.