3/19/24  Lent      Psalm 85    Cherished Terms

3/19/24 Lent Psalm 85 Cherished Terms

3/19/24 Lent Psalm 85 Cherished Terms 

Many years ago, Richard Parrot wrote a fascinating paper on Cherished Terms. He said there are certain terms in every discipline, but particularly in the church, that have a special relationship with that body of people. They are words that have a meaning, apart from the definition, steeped in the usage and history of that group. Words that are cherished. For example, grace. We all know the Webster’s Dictionary meaning of grace, but to those of us who are Christ-followers that word brings up feelings and ideas far beyond the technical definition. Salvation, redemption, fellowship, maybe even reconciliation, all words that carry their own special connotation for we church folk.  

Parrot says that every group of people when they don’t know what else to say, will revert to their cherished terms. That’s why a lawyer, when backed into a corner, will start using “legalese,” or a doctor, when you ask them a tough question, will offer some medical jargon that the common man doesn’t understand. We usually respond by saying something like, “Give it to me in English, Doc.” We do that in the church too. We throw around those words, grace, fellowship, redemption, like everybody else knows our special meaning of them and that may not be true. Cherished terms sometimes get in the way of understanding. My sister says, “Well, bless her heart,” a cherished term that outsiders don’t know really means, “She is dumber than a rock.” (another cherished term) 

In the 85th psalm the writer uses some cherished terms that might surprise you. “Set aside Your WRATH.” (verse 3) “How long will You be ANGRY?” (verse 5) “Salvation is near those who FEAR Him.” (verse 9) It would be interesting to go through the psalms and count how many times these words were used, fear, wrath, anger. The answer would be a lot. The Old Testament writers are not only comfortable talking about the anger of God, they cherish it.  

The anger and wrath of God was a sign of His Justice, His righteousness, and so, in a way, His goodness. If God is not just, He is not good. And if He is not good, He is not God. The fairness and righteousness of God is what I count on when I need His faithfulness. As full as the Bible is of God’s love and grace, it is just as full of His judgement and law. To understand God, we must cherish His wrath, His anger. We must fear Him. 

Well, aren’t you glad you tuned in today? 😊 Yes, because cherishing the “awfulness of God” is what makes the AMAZING exception AMAZING. Because of God’s righteousness, it is incredible that He would set that aside by sending His Son on our behalf. The wrath of God said I needed to be punished, but the grace of God said, “I’ll make an exception. I’ll send Jesus.” Now that’s a cherished term. So, the writer says in verse 13, “Righteousness goes before Him (Jesus) and prepares the way for His steps.” Without the anger of God, His grace is meaningless. Without fearing God, we can’t know His love for us. Think about that as you read verse 10, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Only Jesus can do that. 

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