Jul 25, 2021
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that
by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have
that the Lord is good. —1 Peter 2:2-3
All through the month of July we’ve been singing a new setting of Psalm 34 (BETHESDA), and I hope the experience has been a blessing. This psalm, written by David after narrowly escaping from his enemies, falls (more or less) into three sections: verses 1-7, in which the poet rejoices at what God has done for him; verses 7-14, in which he invites his readers to join with him in praise and listen to his counsel; and finally, verses 15-22, which reiterates the security that the believer has in the Lord’s provision, concluding, “none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” The musical structure is intended to mirror this—each stanza is comprised of selected portions of each large section (respectively, verses 1-3, verses 11-14, and verses 19-20). The main verse is built around a harmonic progression of falling thirds which, combined with a lilting, easy-going rhythm, is intended to communicate a sense of comfort and relaxation. By contrast, the chorus employs more chromatic harmony and an incessant triplet rhythm to ratchet up the intensity for the oft-quoted imperative of this psalm: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” The setting closes with a short coda which combines elements of both the verse and chorus with a line from the final major section of the psalm. This line parallels the central theme: “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
—Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Body, Raised, Christ, God, Man, Adam, Enemies, Subjection, Reign, Naturally, Spiritually
Keystone Verses: Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under His feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second Man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the Man of heaven.