By Elizabeth Prata
There are a lot of songs of praise to and about God in the Bible. We think of Mary’s Magnificat at Christmas time. We think of the Psalms and their exaltation of Yahweh throughout. Simeon’s song. But there are so many others.
I follow a Bible reading plan that is chronological according to when the Bible book is written. So that means Job is the first book in the plan and Revelation is the last one. I just finished reading through Ezekiel.
When I was first saved the Lord saw fit to put in me an interest in Old Testament prophets. So that meant as a babe in Christ I was weaned on Jeremiah, Nahum, Obadiah and so on. I came to understand that was something a bit different as a new Christian than the logical progression of reading John and Acts and the other 3 Gospels. But I cut my teeth on the prophets and I love them and I’m familiar with them.
But this time, reading Ezekiel was a slog. It was hard. I was sadly reluctant to read each day. The constant pronouncements of doom, the judgments, the sadness. It was hard because a lot of what was happening in America was similar to the sins that the various nations were being judged for.
I finished Ezekiel on Saturday. On Sundays I read whatever the sermon is going to be about. On Monday I didn’t want to read, because the next book was Daniel. More about coming doom. More complexity. More heart-wrenching stuff. More judgment for sin.
I didn’t read on Tuesday because I was still gearing up for Daniel. I thought about going off-plan, skipping Daniel, and reading Colossians for a while. But I am not an off script kind of gal, so on Wednesday I started Daniel chapters 1-6 according to plan.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
I should not have delayed. I should not have worried. Do you know how many praise songs there are in those first chapters? My fears about the difficulty level and the Beast of the pit and wrath made me forget the good parts.
It was wonderful to read them. Reading the praises to God is a calming affair. I am posting them below.
My point is, no matter what is going on in the world, no matter how you feel (depressed, anxious, weary…) the Bible is a living document that has the ability to charm, calm, enliven, astound, and more.
Here, Daniel praises God for revealing his mystery, the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.
Nebuchadnezzar’s praise after the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but not burned or singed.
How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and his dominion endures from generation to generation.
Nebuchadnezzar’s praise after the judgment-dream had come true: the King had blasphemed the Most High, had had his reason taken away and he ate grass like and animal for 7 years, and then was restored.
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlastingdominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
And here is King Darius. He had put Daniel into the Lion’s Den overnight but Daniel emerged unscathed. Daniel reported to Darius that the LORD had shut their mouths and made them tame.
Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,
for he is the living God,
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.
(Daniel 6: 25-27)
My point of this essay is that I was being silly. There is always something for us in His word. No matter what plan we are on, it is the right plan and the right moment to receive living wisdom, comfort, education, reproof…well, you know the 2 Timothy verse. The Word of God is the anchor of our days, the rock of our times, the plucker of our heartstrings, and the energizer of our conscience.
What are you reading these days?