As explained in my previous post, the 27th August sees the start of new Twitter #psalmtweets journey. A number people who enjoy the Book of Psalms are going to tweet about each of the 150 psalms over 150 days. Day one will be Psalm 1, day two will be Psalm 2, and so on, in canonical order. It is our hope that others will join the journey. To take part simply include #Psalmtweets for visibility to other participants. If you need to know more about what a #Psalmtweet is then please see my previous post.
This is the final collection of Isaiah tweets. I have found journeying through Isaiah day-by-day, tweeting a chapter a day, a refreshing and illuminating experience. I would strongly others to try this as a modern spiritual discipline. As with tweeting the Psalms it remains a challenge to work within the 140 character limit. Yet, in a way this limit is so constraining, it constantly reminds the author that the tweet is a fleeting engagement with a permanent text. The tweets vary in style and include attempts at summary, thematic pointers, prayers or simply key verses or part verses.
Idolatry is a major theme of Isaiah.
What are our modern equivalents?
What distracts us from Yahweh?
The Lord will save me, and we will sing with stringed instruments all the days of our lives in the temple of the Lord.
The book hinges on this chapter.
A heady mishmash of exile, return and future hope now follow.
Tidings of comfort and joy.
No matter how much effort we put into bolstering our idols they are still made by us and prone to topple over.
The Servant of The Lord is a beautifully polyvalent poetic truth.
Judah, Jesus, Church and disciple.
I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; don’t you perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
& streams in the wasteland.
Humankind, all too often, turn creation into idols.
A day approaches when humanity and all creation acknowledge the Creator.
Gather together and come;
assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
With literal Babylon long gone, but metaphorical Babylon all around, let’s learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land.
Lord, as we walk in the desert, sustain us with your river of peace;
irrigate our communities with streams of life-giving water.
Yahweh has our name engraved on the psalms of his hands.
Where is his name visible in our lives?
Servanthood and discipleship are characterised by taking up a cross.
The New Heaven and Earth will make the wonder that was Eden look like an allotment.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.
This chapter was the subject of the very first Bible Study I attended.
Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
Hungry we eat God’s Word.
Thirsty we imbibe God’s Spirit.
Hallelujah for sweet honey and living water.
Though we were foreigners you welcomed us into covenant.
Some of today’s idols are as dangerous and unpleasant as those described here.
Lord, grant us wise eyes we pray.
Lord, help us cultivate rich spiritual disciplines that deepen our care for the poor and marginalised.
Collective wrongs and identification with unjust world-views can both distance a nation from the living God.
Gates that are never closed – now that’s God’s vision.
We join Isaiah and Jesus in continuing the announcement of the year of the Lord’s favour.
Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
Mighty to save and robed in crimson.
Judgement and mercy established by the Father and the servant.
Our Father in heaven,
we are the clay,
you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
The wolf & the lamb will feed together,
& the lion will eat straw like the ox,
& dust will be the serpent’s food.
Each pilgrim builds for God – home, church, a life and community.
Each is a foretaste of Isaiah’s ultimate vision.
My church, New Life Baptist Church (Guildford), is looking at Isaiah 40-55 on Sunday mornings during January to March this year. Alongside this we are encouraging the whole church to work through the book of Isaiah as part of their daily devotions. The collective reading and reflection helps make our small groups function more effectively as we share insights and challenges.
Over this period I have decided to Tweet daily, chapter by chapter, through the book of Isaiah. This is not a naive attempt to distill some new found wisdom from the book! It is simply another way of ensuring engagement with the biblical text – a spiritual discipline if you like. The tweets can function in various ways. They: (i) can attempt to summarise, by way of a propositional statement, (ii) can reflect on a poetic device in the chapter, (iii) can quote a key verse from the chapter, (iv) can make intertextual connections, (v) can appropriate the text in some personal way, such as a sort prayer.
140 characters, or less, cannot hope to do justice to each chapter. It is, rather, the attempt that is valuable. With similar Tweets on the Psalms I have also found it interesting to see how other people tackle this simple idea. To illustrate the idea I have collected the first few below.
My people why are you deaf?
Your choices have broken the Promised Land.
Come, obey your Yahweh and be my Faithful City again.
Jacob, you shall be a gateway for all nations;
a stream in the desert ahead of the flood.
All will make plowshares from swords.
In that day I will take away the grapes in your vineyards as you are so devoted to crushing your own people.
The branch of The Lord redefines glory.
In Him we find shelter and sojourn to glory.
O Yahweh, what have we done to your vineyard?
Your chosen vines have borne an abundance yes, but only of bad grapes.
Open eyes, to the extent of your glory.
Cleanse hearts, that we might speak of your glory.
Loose feet, that we might walk with you.
If you do not stand firm in faith,
you shall not stand at all.
He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble &
a rock that makes them fall.
Unto Galilee, of all places, the Son of God is given – a child born of a carpenter’s household; Son of Mary.
Your people, O Yahweh, in your mercy are numbered like grains of sand.
Your kingdom come.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.
On this day we say:
“Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.”
Fallen is Babylon.
Hallelujah, I am a foreigner grafted into the descendants of Jacob.
My heart cries out at the brittleness of the nations.
Why do the rulers of the nations see the trampling of ‘the other’ as leadership and justice?
In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
All people of the world;
who live on Earth,
when a banner is raised on the mountains, see it;
when the trumpet sounds, hear it.
I have been tweeting the psalms for well over two years now. The idea is a simple one: I pray a psalm a day as a basic daily devotional activity. I have set it as the bare minimum of my daily engagement with Scripture. Most days it is a foundation to other reading and reflection. Posting a tweet provides a focus to the devotional reading and Twitter can be an aid to ongoing reflection on the ‘psalm of the day’.
Sometimes others join the psalmtweeting and this can be a great encouragement. Currently active psalmtweeters include:
The remarkable thing is seeing how different people psalmtweet. Over time I find I too, do it different ways. Here are just some of the options:
1. Tweeting a verse which captures the whole psalm.
2. Rephrasing a key verse to restate it differently, perhaps poetically.
3. Tweeting a verse that holds special significance; with or without a personal comment.
4. Tweeting a refrain which can be taken as a prayer with you for the day.
5. Creating a tweet that captures the whole psalm. Either as a proposition or better still, in my view given the genre, in poetic form.
6. Making a prayer for others; perhaps obvious world events for example.
Some of the above are visible to the reader, others are understood only by the author.
Why not give it a go and join @TermsofHeart @gwpm @mlaporte74 @OtisRobertson @TerryThePeoples and me – @PsalterMark – on what with God’s grace will be a transformative spiritual discipline. Below are twenty of my recent psalmtweets, which I hope illustrate the idea. One final point, please remember that psalmtweets are a dialogue with the Psalms not a replacement.
Individuals & nations all follow a path.
But what guides them on the journey?
Feeding on Yahweh makes a path into The Way.
Yahweh plays in 10,000 places;
Let the King of Glory in this Sunday.
Yahweh, why do so many hate your people? Why?
We look to you for justice and for shalom.
Hallelujah for the Psalter,
our A-Z of the highways to Zion.
Father, we praise you that righteousness proceeds your Son;
That we might follow his steps on The Way.
Frail and beleaguered, you, Yahweh, are my comfort.
At journey’s end I see the nations gathered in your name.
Zion permeates the Psalter:
We can pray to Yahweh in despair when we have nothing left other than the knowledge of his existence.
The sad story of a failed throne becomes a lens of joy through which we see David Redux, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord we will worship you with gladness this day as we gather like so many before us.
The Psalter is a concept album;
But Western society has forgotten not only what the Psalms are but has no time to ‘listen’ to a whole album.
Dwelling & shelter.
A shade to abide under.
A fortress of refuge.
A shield from terror.
Yahweh our protector.
Gardener, I praise You.
Pruner, I proclaim Your deeds.
I photosynthesise Your Light.
I am rooted in Your word.
From eternity you have defined kingship.
Your decrees are everlasting.
The oceans reverently echo your might.
They band themselves together against the life of the righteous
And condemn the innocent to death.
Yahweh is the king who shaped mountains and seas.
If we do not harden our hearts he will shape our little lives too.
O Yahweh as we praise you today may we turn an old song or psalm into a New Song as you quicken our hearts & minds.
El Elyon, Lord most high, we look to you in your majesty and splendour.
May our worship this day honour you.
If seas will roar and mountains clap, how could we possibly refrain from singing a New Song?
We marvel at your revelation through pillar of cloud & holy statute.
Yahweh you surpass statues & awkward silence.
Lord you must laugh at the idea of self-made men and women.
Perhaps you weep?
Take our joy as trust; re-make us.
As I look back on these twenty psalmtweets I can see a snapshot of God’s grace in my life in late-August to early-September. I am sure that psalmtweeting is not for everyone but I hope some who read this post might try it or be inspired to do something fresh that will welcome the King of Glory in, with a fresh earnestness, on the journey to Zion.
This post continues the summary of recent psalmtweets. These psalmtweets are part of a set attempting to say something simultaneously about a specific psalm and the whole Psalter. This is working out with varying degrees of success.
The picture of eternal life in the Psalms is one of dwelling with Yahweh and worshiping Him.
The Psalms teach us that our frailty and our dependence on God are both quite normal.
We would do well to cultivate an imagination of faith which perceives God in his sanctuary.
Like the Psalter this is a journey from a place of threat and trembling to a new place of refuge and rejoicing.
Creation is full of immense bounty. Thank Yahweh.
Creation and Redemption celebrated together.
Like Jacob we can ask for Yahweh’s blessing.
Shine Yahweh shine!
As Christians we read the Psalms with new glasses;
Re-reading with 20/20 vision in Christ.
In the Psalms there are verses that yield fitting words for the nation of Israel in judgement and/or for Jesus Christ in ministry.
The Psalms instruct my prayer for those who delight in my harm.
Come Yahweh. Hasten Lord Jesus.
This is a continuation of my latest series of psalmtweets which is an attempt to see how each psalm contributes to the whole. This is part of a broader experiment in using psalmtweets as a daily spiritual discipline.
The Psalms speak of the need for a broken spirit and a willing spirit, all enabled by the Holy Spirit.
Sticking to the Way ensures we flourish like a healthy sapling.
The detours threaten our very roots.
The Psalter presents a sobering picture of humanity’s inability to pursue justice, truth, community and well-being.
The Psalms show a single-minded confidence in Yahweh;
a God who has acted, is acting and will act.
There is nothing new about discord among God’s people.
Though flight is tempting, we instead need to run to Yahweh.
Trust defines the life of faith.
Dependence on Yahweh is key on the path.
The eyes of faith perceive a God of loving-kindness amidst the pain of the journey.
The Psalms help us pray against false Gods, whether ancient near-eastern deities or the trappings of Western culture.
The Psalms have an organic relationship with the Law, the Prophets and the other Writings.
The journey of communities of faith is oft times touched by pain and trial.
Our journey continues with these 10 psalms. We continue our effort to use individual psalms to define the Psalter.
The Psalms celebrate the faithful’s care for the helpless and the poor.
Thirsting for God is a normal part of the life of faith according to the Psalter.
The Psalms know nothing of an abstract God; Yahweh is the God of Jacob and of Jesus Christ.
He is our God.
Yahweh planted Israel and the Church.
God’s people are blessed by God and yet opposed by many.
The Psalms inspire creativity in worship;
Poetry, song, prose, music, art and even tweets.
We don’t journey for long on the life of faith before being grateful that Yahweh is a very present help in trouble.
The Book of Praises exhorts us to praise without ceasing.
The Psalms describe the city of our God and guide us on the path to it.
The Psalms are for everyone, rich and poor alike. But who will listen?
The Psalms, like the Law and Prophets, show that social justice and society’s cohesiveness are God’s priority.
This is the 4th post of my latest round of Psalmtweets.
The Psalms show that suffering and illness are part of the life of faith.
But trust, hope & faith are the greater part.
The Psalms teach us about The Way.
Yahweh’s instruction is more than just knowledge.
The Psalter teaches us to sing new songs;
this is more about renewal than new words.
The Psalms tell us that the life of faith is an experience of God-tasting, God perceiving, feeling and God-talk.
The Psalms teach us, perhaps surprisingly, about the armour of God.
The Psalms map the loving-kindness of Yahweh.
The Psalms help us rest in God.
Resting in Yahweh is key, whatever is happening in our lives.
The life of faith is a challenge.
We can call upon the Lord to make haste to help us on the path.
The Psalms enable us, as creatures, to understand our frailty before our Creator.
The Psalter shows us that the right response to deliverance is the singing of new songs.
The third of the new psalmtweets posts. These tweets are part of a set of 150 which aim to define the Psalter with a contribution from each psalm.
The Psalms often speak of the King.
These words have taken on new significance in Christ.
The Psalms show how desperate need should be turned into desperate prayer.
The Psalms are elastic; their words become Word in diverse situations.
The Psalms are a prequel to the Gospel; let Jesus the King of glory in.
The Psalms tell us that though we walk with God we also have to wait on Him.
The Psalms show us the centrality of gathered community worship in the life of faith.
The Psalms emphasise that we can dwell with the living God, our sanctuary.
The Psalms reveal that Yahweh is a rock, but that He is not silent.
The Psalms instruct us about God’s word and its power.
The Psalms show us that continual thankfulness is a central plank of the life of faith.
This is the second post for my latest round of psalmtweets. The aim is that each tweet is faithful to a key aspect of a specific psalm, as well as pointing to a broader dynamic of the Psalter. This ‘design’ is an attempt to mirror the nature of the Psalter, in that individual psalms come together in a synergy which makes a greater whole.
The Psalms speak of a glorious future when we will see Yahweh’s face.
The Psalms explore the positive efficacy of Yahweh’s words and the destructive negativity of humanity’s speech.
The Psalms show that the life of faith is about relationships; with Yahweh, with His people and with our enemies.
The Psalms have harsh words for those of God’s people who do not live up to His instruction.
The Psalms speak of the need for clean hands. In Christ our hands are made clean.
The Psalms help us along the path; in God’s presence there is fullness of joy.
The Psalms tell us that we are the apple of God’s eye.
The Psalms give us language for personal prayer and corporate worship.
The Psalms tell us that both creation and Scripture testify to the glory and righteousness of Yahweh.
The Psalms need to be reread. For example, the name of our Lord Jesus is not found there. But He can be found there.