This fall our worship services and sermons are exploring and celebrating the Psalms as part of our Christian inheritance. We are immersing ourselves in these true treasures of life. The psalms were inspired by God have been sung, spoken, studied, and prayed by God’s people for 3,000 years.
A Song for All Nations
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas….
….You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
softening it with showers, and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
(ESV, Psalm 65:5,9-11)
It rained last night and showers are predicted several days this week. For those of you who are new to El Paso, coming from greener pastures, you might be glad for the relief from dryness and dust that has accompanied our toasty summer months. Those of you who are life-long desert-dwellers like me or who have lived in El Paso for a long time, perhaps share the warm fuzzy feelings that I feel and others have told me they feel when the rains begin to fall. The cooler air, the sound of dripping, the distinct smell of El Paso rain, the cleansed air that brings a clear view of the valley… these all come together to create for many of us a quiet joy.
Of course storms and water can be destructive forces. The news this week of hurricane warnings out East and mud slide concerns out west reminds us of this fact. Nevertheless, it is the positive work of water and rain celebrated in Psalm 65, which is our text for this sermon. It celebrates God’s salvation mission to all nations and looks forward to this salvation like a person looks forward to the arrival of cleansing, life-giving water.
“O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas…. You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges,
softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. (v.5,9-10)”
King David who wrote Psalm 65 understood the need for water and blessings of water. Bad things happen without it. Food cannot grow, and people die of thirst. When singing of God’s salvation, of God’s blessing he expressed his faith in God and expressed it to be like trust in the coming of water into our life. Water brings life. Water brings growth.
It isn’t surprising, then, to hear Jesus explaining His intentions for the world one day, saying, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (ESV, Jn 4:14)” Later He would also say, ““If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ (ESV, Jn 7:37–38)”
Jesus gave His life on the cross because our sins are like dehydrating, life destroying silica packets. You know those little packets manufactures put into bottles of vitamins and other products to absorb water. They carry a warning label saying, “DO NOT EAT!!!” They will suck the life out of you as they absorb the hydration you need to live. Every time we indulge our sinful nature, it’s like swallowing sin-silica, and it will kill us. Jesus gave His life for us and took it up again.
When we were baptized, sprinkled with the gift of His life-giving water, we were “hydrated” for eternal living. Through Christ, the living water, we are living a new life and in Jesus we will live always, even if we die. Death has no hold on us.
God’s intention to save us is the purpose celebrated in Psalm 65. Water is the image used to explain it, but we must remember that it is a salvation meant for all nations. It is a song of mission. This song of mission is our inheritance, a true treasure for our lives. It is a precious expression of God’s salvation that comes to us like water sprinkled upon desert sands, raising up sprouts of life in abundance. It points to Jesus Christ, the fulfiller of this salvation purpose. 3,000 years ago, the Psalm pointed forward even to OUR present faith. King David didn’t know us, but He knew God and His purpose as he sang this psalm. God knew us. Today because of this Psalm and the rest of scripture and because of those Christians before us who sang it and lived it for the sake of others, we too know God and His salvation.
Let our songs and lives of faith serve God’s salvation mission. People thirst for it. Bring them Jesus.