Our second COVID Easter is coming up next week, and I’m worried we won’t have the energy to celebrate. I’m worried we’ll feel more like Psalms 137:4: “How can we sing the songs of Yahweh in a foreign land?” But I have the cure! Ancient songs for people who feel like you do today.
The Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 120–134, are the soundtrack of the trek from wherever you are, whomever you’re with, however you feel, to the Temple in Jerusalem, where you will join the people of God in the place of God with the presence of God in remembering His covenant faithfulness. If you’re discouraged this week, give them a read; I promise they will help you to lift up your eyes and see the glory that is coming.
Here are some other things to read…
Recently on VerseNotes
I’m really enjoying this Esther kick. While my daily devotional rumbles through Leviticus and Proverbs and Mark, my mind keeps snapping back to this woman who starts the story beautiful but weak; overcomes her fear through prayer, fasting, and the strong encouragement of Mordecai; and saves the Jews with cleverness and courage. Esther almost sounds like the heroine of a Christian young adult novel, but she’s real, and she points us to Jesus in amazing ways.
As you know, and see below, I’m all about the details. Usually I try to put them in context to understand what’s going on—that’s how I get from detail to delight—but in this case, I think the details themselves suffice.
Delight in the Details
Each newsletter, I’m going to highlight a little detail I’ve enjoyed. Recently, I’ve been enamored with what I’m calling “Very Minor Prophets”: the ones who show up in Scripture, but don’t get their own books.
Azariah the prophet encouraged King Asa of Judah to enact a series of religious reforms, tearing down idols and rebuilding the altar in the temple. Azariah’s encouragement was shockingly simple: just a reminder of God’s history of preserving Israel. He says, “The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.”
He recounts Israel’s history: when the nation turned to God and relied on him, they had peace and prosperity. When they turned away, the country failed and fell to its enemies. And when they returned, God rescued them.
Azariah finishes by saying, “Take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.” Asa listens, and the nation has peace. (Spoiler: Asa’s faith doesn’t last, and neither does Israel’s prosperity. But that’s the story of Hanani.)