Psalm 6; 1 Chronicles 6:31–81; Acts 10:23b–33

Psalm 6: We can almost feel the psalmist’s pain as he cries out to God form his sick bed: “Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am wretched. / Heal me, for my limbs are stricken. / And my life is hard stricken.(3,4a). The assurance of God’s presence that we saw in earlier psalms is completely absent.. In fact, it seems our present psalmist has been calling on God for quite a while, and the only answer is silence: “–and You, O Lord, how long?” (4b)

But our poet is not so sick that he cannot apply logic to make his case to cause God to answer. After all, God cannot be worshipped if he is dead: “For death holds no mention of You. / In Sheol who can acclaim You?” (6) Perhaps if God realizes how desperately the psalmist longs for God, he will respond: “I weary in my sighing. / I make my bed swim every night, / with my tears I water my couch.” (7)

And then. And then an answer. God is indeed listening. The tears vanish; we can imagine the smile on the poet’s tear-stained face: “for the LORD hears the sound of my weeping. / The LORD hears my plea, /the LORD will take my prayer.” (10). His enemies, who doubtless have been assuring him that God cannot hear him are “shamed and hard stricken.”

This is the psalm that speaks so profoundly to those of who feel we are praying to a God who is not listening. Yes, God is indeed listening. He hears. The next question: Will God speak?

1 Chronicles 6:31–81: Our scrupulous Chronicler, having listed the genealogies of every tribe of Israel now turn his attention to other inventories, listing the men and their sons and grandsons who served as musicians and priests for David and then, Solomon, including Heman, Samuel’s grandson. We have to wonder which of these men wrote psalms, for to be listed by the Chronicler, for I imagine that “musician” included not just “player,” but “composer” and “poet” as well.

The Chronicler then turns his attention to inventorying the land and settlements occupied by the Levites, as we recall that the tribe of Levi, being priests, were allocated pieces of land by each of the other tribes. The allocation appear to be a small town and its surrounding pasture lands.  Even in this humble inventory we are reminded that land was at the center of God’s promise to Israel.

Acts 10:23b–33: Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house, who immediately falls down and tries to worship Peter, who in turn “made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” (26). I think this is a critical point that Luke is making. Jesus had not somehow passed along his divinity to his disciples; they were human like everyone else. That would be an important point for the early church, especially as if fought off the influences of gnosticism.

Quite a crowd has gathered and again, Luke underscores the radical nature of this meeting as Peter says, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.” (28) So he has obeyed God and appeared before Cornelius but still doesn’t know why.

Cornelius describes what happened with military precision, including the exact time, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock,” (30), explaining only that an angel commanded him to send for Peter. And not just send for him, but “here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.” Notice how Cornelius makes it clear that both Jew and gentile are standing in “the presence of God.” Luke is telling us that what is about to happen is not a human idea, but an action that comes from God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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