The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum
Psalm 1,1-3; Psalm 106,3 5117
18. Trinitatis 063
Teresa of Avila, Spain. Virgin ✠ 1582
15. Oktober 2017
1. O Lord, our Peace and Security, guard our hearts and minds with the pure gospel, so that our trust is always and only on Jesus. Amen. (Gradual).
2. Blessed are they who guard judgement, who do righteousness at all times! Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the torah of the Lord, and on His torah he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
3. The Psalmist begins today’s Introit with these words: »Blessed are they who guard judgement, who do righteousness at all times!« The Hebrew concept of of judgement was two-fold: punish the wrong-doer and vindicate the person wronged; as such, it is similar to our concept of justice. Many of the laws in the Mosaic covenant dealt with specific cases of injustice and what the prescribed judgement should be. The laws of restitution were practical applications of justice. Stolen livestock required restitution 4 or 5 times more that was stolen, stolen money required restitution double that was stolen and damaged farm crops required a 1:1 restitution from the best of one’s crops (Leviticus 22,1-7). These and many more laws sought to ultimately restore the bond of neighborly love that had been severed. These laws also served as a guide for moral holiness and virtue, for the Lord declared: »Sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I you Lord am holy« (Leviticus 11,44). Sanctification and holiness is righteousness language. The Lord is righteous, therefore you be righteous. The Psalmist, however, is not calling for woks-righteousness whereby a person is merited righteous because of all the good, moral things he/she does and says. The Lord’s people are moral, holy and righteous because He declares them as such; He is our Lord we are His people, therefore we are righteous.
4. The Lord grounded this righteousness upon a particular action: His redemption of Israel from Egyptians slavery (Leviticus 11,45); He has set Israel apart from all others (Leviticus 20,26). The Lord dwelt among His people and delivered them through Moses and Aaron. We know the checkered history of Israel: they would worship the Lord, but then fall away, back and forth, pious then wicked, and the Lord sent Prophets to call them back to His promise and covenant with them: I redeemed you and declared you righteous, now live as holy people. Finally, the Prophet Malachi declared: »Behold, the day is approaching, burning like an oven, when all the evil-doers will be stubble; the day that is approaching shall burn them up, but for you who honor the Name of the Lord, the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings« (Malachi 4,1-2). How did John the Baptizer prepare the way for Jesus? He spoke like the Prophet Malachi: »Repent, for the reign of heaven is in your midst. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than me is arriving after me, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into the granary, but He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire« (Matthew 3,2.11-12). When Jesus began His ministry, His first sermon was simply: »Repent, for the reign of heaven is in your midst« (Matthew 4,17).
5. Jesus stands in our midst like the Tree of Life. The Psalmist declares: »Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, but rather his delight is in the Torah of the Lord and on His Torah he meditates day and night.« The Word of the Lord is a Lamp to our feet and a Light to our path (Psalm 119,105). His Word teaches us about His character and nature, rebukes us of sin, exhorts us to walk upon the moral path and promises us forgiveness and salvation; in short, the Word of the Lord teaches us wisdom and knowledge. The Apostle John affirms that Jesus is the Word of the Lord made flesh who gives us eternal life (John 1,4.14).
6. The Psalmist promises that those who meditate upon the Word of the Lord, upon Jesus, are fruitful trees who prosper. Faith confesses Jesus to be the Christ and thus receives the gospel of salvation through Jesus, then faith yields a bountiful harvest of good works that benefit our neighbors. From faith springs forth love, patience, kindness and generosity (Galatians 5,22-23). With this faith and works we guard judgement and do righteousness that is pleasing to the Lord and is helpful to our neighbor.
7. »The Lord watches over the way of the righteous« (Psalm 1,6). »For the Lord has destined us for salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we shall live with Him« (1. Thessalonians 5,9-10). »May the Lord of peace sanctify you, and may your spirit, soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who called you is faithful, and He will do this. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you« (1. Thessalonians 5,23-24.28). Amen.
8. Let us pray. O Lord, our Faithful Friend, teach us to fear, love and trust You, so that in all our doings and all our days we may remain focused on you with our faith and works for Your praise and our neighbor’s benefit. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
Soli Deo Gloria
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.