New Book on the Psalms of Ascents

This past Lord's Day, we read from Psalm 123 and Pastor Norm preached a sermon on this text entitled "The Soundtrack of the Sermon on the Mount." Well, one day later an email arrived from the Banner of Truth publications crew with details of a forthcoming book about the Psalms of Ascents. 

If such a book interests you, read on to learn more about this work by Rhett Dodson: 


The Psalms of Ascents (Psalms 120-134) were sung by Israelites as they made their way to Jerusalem for the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. As pilgrim songs, they provide a way for believers to express their fears, needs, and aspirations as they journey through this life.

These psalms are also the songs of Jesus. In Marching to Zion you will discover how these ancient songs of Israel affect our faith today, point us to the future, and help keep our eyes on Christ every step of the way.
— Marching to Zion: Ancient Psalms for Modern Pilgrims

Don't Forget -- Remember What Is Important!

"The means God appointed to help the children of Israel were to remember what was important. In his dealings with Moses, God had established a set of repetitive processes by which the Israelites would be constantly reminded of all that God had done for them. Thus, for example, in Exodus 12, God establishes the Passover Feast, the performance of which is designed in part to provoke later generations to ask the question of why this is done. This will then require parents to tell their children about God’s great act of saving grace in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt even as this was by means of an awesome and terrifying judgment against the Egyptians.

The Passover is just one example of many rituals outlined in the Torah which functioned on one level as reminders of who God was, who the Israelites were, and how they related to each other. Thus, when we come in to the Promised Land and we find the Israelites suffering persistent recurrences of amnesia, it does not take a genius to assume that part of the immediate cause of this was their abject neglect of the means which God had established for keeping his name and his acts fresh in their minds.

What this kind of amnesia tells us is that we need constant reminders of who God is and what he has done if we are to stay on the straight and narrow; and that these are provided by the routines and rituals which God specifies in Scripture. For the Christian, under the terms of the NT age, these are the Word of God, read and preached and heard, and the sacraments, or, if you are a Baptist, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These things are given to remind us of who God is; and the neglect of them will only help to accelerate any proclivities towards forgetfulness that our instinctive rebellion of God encourages."

(Carl Trueman, "Lest We Forget" in Themelios 34.3 Nov 2009: http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/lest-we-forget)

 

Book Recommendation: Learning from Lord Mackay

Learning from Lord Mackay: Life and Work in Two Kingdoms

Cameron Fraser, a pastor and writer from Lethbridge, Alberta, has written a book about Lord James Mackay of Scotland. For our congregation, there is a special connection with Lord Mackay as he is a member of one of our sister congregations in the Associated Presbyterian Churches. 

The book is available on Amazon.ca and the foreword was written by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. 

Still need convincing to pick up your copy? Then read a little overview for yourself: 

James Mackay served as Lord Advocate of Scotland (1979-84) and Lord Chancellor of Great Britain (1987-97). He is, in the words of a past President of the Law Society of Scotland, “not only an outstanding man in his profession, but one of the most brilliant Scottish scholars of all time.” He is also a humble Christian who has served his Lord in church and state. This book seeks to introduce him to a wider Christian audience, while pointing out lessons that may be learned by others in political office and seeking to locate him in terms of the contemporary (largely American) “two kingdoms” controversy. “There is no Scotsman, indeed no British person in public life whom I admire more.”
— Dr. Sinclair Ferguson
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Available in Paperback and Kindle versions

On the Psalms and Ephesians 5

From 150 Questions about the Psalter by Bradley Johnston:

Q13. Why does the Apostle Paul use the words 'psalms and hymns and songs' to teach the churches about singing?

A. The Apostle Paul uses the three words 'psalms and hymns and songs' to teach the churches about singing because they were featured in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) used by his original readers. The inscriptions of the Greek Psalter use 'psalm' 67 times, 'hymn' 6 times, and 'song' 36 times. All three words are used repeatedly in the text of the Psalter itself.

For a more in depth treatment of this subject, consider reading the RPCNA Report on Psalmody in the Church (accessible here)

Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash

The Impact of God's Covenant with King David

What are we to make of the Davidic covenant found in 2 Samuel 7 and described again in 1 Chronicles 17?

First, we should be clear what we mean by 'covenant'. In the memorable words of the Children's Shorter Catechism, a covenant is a "relationship that God establishes with us and guarantees by His Word." Thus, when God made a covenant with King David, the LORD was telling David and his descendants what he could expect in the generations to come. 

The LORD looked upon the shepherd king of Israel and established an everlasting covenant – a binding and constant arrangement between God and David and his offspring. The Davidic covenant established an expectation of a greater Son of David who would come to bring us into an everlasting kingdom! And if we want to summarize the significance of the Davidic covenant in a single sentence, we might say: 

Because God keeps His Word, His promise of an everlasting house (or dynasty) and Kingdom to David gave confidence to all who anticipated the fulfillment of this promise. 

"I Believe in Jesus Christ": J.I. Packer on the Touchstone of Christianity

In his simple explanation of the Apostles' Creed, Dr. J.I. Packer writes,

"When [the creed] called God "maker of heaven and earth," it parted company with Hinduism and Eastern faiths generally; now, by calling Jesus Christ God's only Son, [our creed] parts company with Judaism and Islam and stands quite alone. This claim for Jesus is both the touchstone of Christianity and the ingredient that makes it unique."

It's helpful for us to remember this truth as the touchstone of our faith and the very thing that makes Christianity such a vital religion with a message of truth and life for all who will listen! 

Q: How did the Psalter come about?

"David arranged for the composition of the Psalter because he had received a covenant promise from God that his heirs would serve as the leaders of God's people forever. (2 Samuel 7) The Psalter was prepared in David's temple arrangements for use in the Lord's worship."

(From '150 Questions about the Psalter' by Bradley Johnston;http://www.crownandcovenant.com/product_p/ds199.htm)