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Archive for May 21st, 2016

103_2575When I went to my final Colloquy interview in St. Louis for acceptance as a pastor into The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, I went sight-seeing to some of my favorite places in St. Louis  and the Old Cathedral above is one of them. It is on the same grounds as the Arch (see photo below).  

When my wife saw this photo, not noticing the cross atop the steeple, she asked, Is this a synagogue?  The Hebrew is the tretragrammaton, the four letters, in Hebrew, transliterated in some Bibles, Yahweh, but generally translated as LORD.  The Latin is, “One God and Three”.  I think this is just brilliant to put on a Christian church building.  Unlike the Mormons, who put no cross atop their ‘temples’, or anywhere for that matter (like church-growth mega-churches!) , the Church lifts high the cross and the basis of the Cross is the  LORD: One God and Three, the sturdy doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

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1O LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
 2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
   to still the enemy and the avenger.

 3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
   and the son of man that you care for him?

 5Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned him with glory and honor.
6You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
   and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

 9O LORD, our Lord,
   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Intro:  This is the appointed psalm for this Sunday, the Holy Trinity.  It’s appointment for Holy Trinity is obvious as it praises the Name of the Lord, the blessed and Holy Trinity,  “…in all the earth” and the Name of Jesus, given in His circumcision, the Incarnate Name of God, crucified for “all the earth” and it’s inhabitants,   “…. (t)herefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Therefore, the significance of this psalm in relationship to the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity is highlighted by the following unique aspects of Psalm 8:

  • Psalm 8 is the first praise psalm in the Psalter.
  • Psalm 8 is the only psalm prayed “…completely as direct address to God” (James Luther Mays).
  • Psalm 8 is one of the Psalms of David, as recorded in the Text.

Verses 1 and 9:  The first sentence of verse 1 is exactly the same as verse 9.  These verses form a kind of  bookends to the Psalm.  Verse 1 is the statement of the theme prompting the praise of David:  the Name of the Lord.  Verse 9 is the conclusion of the Psalm as the reasons for the praise have been sung that are behind and integral to the Name of the Lord.   Verses 1 and 9 are theme and conclusion in the exact same words!

The verses center on the Name of the LORD.

  • First:  His Name is “majestic”, glorious.
  • Second:  His Name is “…in all the earth”.

David’s concern here is obviously the rock which is the LORD’s Name and it is not restricted to Israel but goes out “…in all the earth”, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in His one work in creating, redeeming and sanctifying. 

Names are significant.  Probably the most unique decision parents’ make regarding the prospect of a birth:  the name of the child.  In the Jewish rite of circumcision the question is asked, What will the child’s name be in Israel? In Baptism, the question is asked of the person to be baptized, “How is he named?”. This is all reflected in the authority the Lord gave to Adam in naming the lesser creatures. Names are significant in the Bible all around, for instance:

  • The word “name” grammatically part of the “Lord” or “God” appears in some 110 times in the  Psalms.
  • The Lord names His Son (Luke 2: 21).
  • The Lord changes the name of one He has called as that man has been transformed by the Lord:  Abram-Abraham;  Jacob-Israel;  Simon-Peter.
  • The Lord taught us to pray to sanctify His Name in calling upon Him in the disciples prayer:  Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.

We give our child a name and the Lord gave us His.  When Moses asked the Lord His Name in His revelation in the burning bush, it was  momentous event in the history of the world.  For with the giving of  His Name comes the responsibility of calling upon His Name and also the prospect for us fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve to abuse it.  The LORD gave Moses His Name (Exodus 3:  13-15).  Then later the LORD gave a commandment, the 2nd, for the godly and right use of His Name:  You shall not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain.  Luther in The Small Catechism sums it up well:

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

We know all too well the  misuse of His Name but here in Psalm 8, in fact, all 150 Psalms is the right and godly use of His Name. His Name in Hebrew is usually capitalized in many English translations as LORD.  The photo above is of the Old Cathedral (Roman Catholic) near the Arch in St. Louis, MO.  When my wife saw it she asked, “You went to a synagogue?”(!)  The 4 Hebrew letters, or Tetragrammaton, is phonetically rendered Yahweh.  Underneath the Name is a Latin saying:  Deo Uni et Trino, God One and Three:  the Holy Trinity, the one LORD.   Praying the Psalter we make holy His Name for our  lives transformed by the Holy Spirit in the conformation of them in Jesus Christ.

 The LORD commanded Solomon to build His Temple and as Solomon prayed at the dedication of the Temple, “…the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there’” (1 Kings 8: 28). And yet Solomon prayed,“Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8: 27).  The LORD is close by, in His Temple and yet all of creation can not contain Him!  So David prayed in this Psalm, His Name in all the earth and yet His Word is out of “babes and infants”, close-by.  His Name is close-by, in Jesus Christ, in His Word and Sacraments, yet day by day in our daily prayer offered in faith, “O LORD, our Lord” as His Presence is everywhere.

Let us pray…

“Do not My holy name disgrace, do not My Word of truth debase.

Praise only that as good and true Which I Myself say and do.  

                 Have mercy, Lord!”            

                                                                                                                    

(LSB, #581, These Are the Holy Ten Commands”)

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