Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Psalm 145 – “I will thank you forever and ever. Every day I will thank you; I will praise you forever and ever” (145:2).
What you have done will be praised throughout the generations. “The Lord is loving and merciful, show to become angry and full of constant love” (145:8).
The Lord is faithful to his promises and helps those in trouble. He “lifts those who have fallen” (145:14).
Psalm 146 – “Don’t put your trust in human leaders” (146:3). When they die, they are dust.
Happy are those who depend on our God; “he judges in favor of the oppressed. . .sets prisoners free and gives sight to the blind” (146:7-8).
Psalm 147 – “It is good to sing praise to our God; it is pleasant and right to praise him. The Lord is restoring Jerusalem; he is bringing back the exiles. He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds” (147:1-3).
“He counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!” (147:4-5). He raises the humble and crushes the wicked.
He does not take pleasure in strong horses or delight in brave soldiers. He just takes pleasure in those who honor him. The beauties of nature are celebrated – “He sends the snow like white wool; he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes. He hurls the hail like stones. Who can stand against his freezing cold? Then at his command, it all melts. He sends his winds, and the ice thaws” (147:17-18).
“He has revealed his words to Jacob, his decrees and regulations to Israel. He has not done this for any other nation; they do not know his regulations” (147:19-20).
Psalm 148 – The angels of heaven also should praise the Lord; the sun, the moon, the highest heavens and waters above the sky – all should praise the name of the Lord. And all people should praise him – kings, princes, young men and women, old people and children.
Psalm 149 – Another praise psalm: “Praise the Lord from the heavens! Praise him from the skies! Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven!” (149:1-2)
“Praise the Lord from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths, fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children. Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!” (149: 7-13).
Psalm 150 – “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King” (150:1-2).
Praise him with dancing and with music, with harps and lyres.
“Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands—to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains, to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones” (150:6-9). Not the words I would have ended these beautiful hymns with.
First Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (96/97 AD)
Lot’s hospitality and piety brought him safely out of Sodom. And the “doubt and distrust of God’s power” brought Lot’s wife the punishment of being turned into a pillar of salt.
Faith and hospitality continue to be praised. Rahab is praised for hiding the spies sent to Jericho by Joshua (see Joshua 2) and for, in some way, foreseeing the redemptive death of Jesus in her use of a “scarlet cord” to mark her dwelling so that the invading armies under Joshua would not harm her. Clement associates the “scarlet” marker as a prophesy of Christ’s “saving blood.”
It is so interesting to me the emphasis Clement gives to the virtue of hospitality. I think we have lost a sense of the importance of this virtue; we seldom need to call upon it these days. But in the scriptures and in the classical epics of Greece, The Odyssey, in particular, hospitality is very central. One never was supposed to ask who it was one offered hospitality to; it was simply a given that if anyone came by one’s house, he/she should be invited in and cared for as if they might be a god.
“My brothers, do let us have a little humility; let us forget our self-assertion and braggadocio and stupid quarrelling, and do what the Bible tells us instead” (28). “The wise man is not to brag of his wisdom, nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his wealth” [Jeremiah 9:23].
“[L]et us remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said in one of His lessons on mildness and forbearance. Be merciful, He told us, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that you may be forgiven” (28).
The “Holy Word says, Whom shall I look upon, but him that is gentle and peaceable, and trembles at my saying?” (28).
It is more appropriate for us “to obey God than to follow people whose insolent unruliness has made them the ringleaders of this odious rivalry” (28).
“Rather let us show kindliness to one another, in the same sweet spirit of tenderness as our Maker” (28).
We should ally ourselves “with those who work for peace out of genuine devotion, and not with men who only pay lip service to it” (28).
“May the Lord destroy all lying lips, and the braggart tongue” (29).