Give ear! Shine! Stir up! Come! Restore! See Our Christ!

Chris Robins, church planter in San Francisco and one of my mentors has written a wonderful piece on Psalm 80, enjoy.

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel! You who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine! (Psalm 80:1)

I remember a Korean friend describing how his language had a very strict form of reverence shown to your betters. It’s all about respect. We seem to have missed that today – from our families to our faith. I think the bobble head Jesus that sits on your dashboard and glows in the dark is disgusting. The King of kings is not your ornament.  He made the universe and gave Himself for sinners. Shouldn’t be surprised I suppose – we treated Him that way the first time He came. But then I’m somewhat taken back by the poet Asaph. In the first line he uses two commands. Listen!  Shine! These aren’t polite posturing. This is how you order a servant around. The Hebrew imperative is just as urgent and in your face (or rather His face) as our language is.  In the lines that follow are four more.  Stir up! Come! Restore! And shine!  But this bold, almost impertinent tone, is mixed with awe and wonder.  He calls God “Shepherd of Israel.”  Then he has a vision. God enthroned on burning angels!  What does this ancient worship teach us?  Any reverence that isn’t bold is not from the cross. It’s merely custom.  It’s a posture, beggared by its own grandiose words. On the other hand, any boldness that isn’t breathing with a sense of awe is folly.  A familiarity that has drifted into its own contempt.  

What this poet so beautifully does is amazing. Now grandeur magnifies the imperative.  Now the urgent commands startle us with a the vision of glory.  Now we begin to glimpse a deep redeeming truth: transcendent image alongside immanent language is nothing less than Christ.  Christ prefigured. He is, in Himself, what Asaph blended in his poem. Christ is yes and amen to the imperatives, and Christ is crowned and exalted above all things. What do we do with this?  First, there is no limit to His glory. Therefore there is no limit to expressing it.  Praise Him abundantly by the Names He has given. Do it freely and often.  Christ taught us to pray “Hallowed by Your Name.” Fill your prayers with this poet’s imagination and a sense of wordy wonder. When we pray we are in bright places of burning glory! But mix that with an urgency that somehow feels presumptuous.  Our need is so great and immediate!  Our access is so incredible! Use these very commands, these imperatives today with our Father for yourself, for me, and for San Francisco.  Give ear!  Shine!  Stir up! Come! Restore!  Shine with Your very Face!!! Because it’s in Jesus Name we come to You, Great and Holy Father, enthroned forever in the glorious fire of the angelic hosts!

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