At the beginning of the year I preached a series of sermons on the first 3 chapters of Revelation. While I was working through this series, a conversation I had with Nathan and Luke raised an interesting question: what could be done with all the material that is left on the cutting room floor each week?
I don’t know how other preachers prepare their sermons, but I find that one of the most challenging parts of sermon preparation is choosing what to leave out – what not to say. This is a good exercise because, quite apart from keeping the sermon from becoming frighteningly long, it encourages a coherence and focus upon what remains. Still, while I find each week’s study formative for all that God is teaching and showing me, it seems a pity not to share at least some of those insights with all of you in some form or fashion.
Back to my conversation with Luke & Nathan… One of the suggestions for what to do with this material was to record an audio or perhaps even video that would be neither sermon nor lecture nor devotional, just a place to collect 3-5 minutes worth of material that others might find illuminating, interesting or, possibly, even insightful. Clearly, I have yet to launch such a weekly audio/video recording of this kind, but I still think it is a great idea. So, while I wrestle with the practical details of this venture, it strikes me that, in the meantime, it might be worthwhile making a start by using a more familiar mode of communication: writing. I hope the following might just whet your appetite for more…
I think I remember pointing out that, in Ps. 1:2, the word “meditates” (ESV) can also mean to mumble. The idea is that of long, careful, thoughtful consideration – a kind of mental chewing expressed in low murmurs. Intriguingly, this same word is used of the nations / peoples in Ps. 2:1 and is translated, “plot”. Here, of course it is used negatively of God’s enemies whereas in Ps. 1 it is used of the righteous. I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if there are at least 2 reasons for this. First, using common vocabulary that is slightly unusual is a common way for biblical authors to help their readers make connections. This is not the only connection between Pss. 1 & 2, but it is one of the ways we know these two Psalms, though distinct, are intended to be read together. Second, it’s interesting that this word is also used in Isaiah of a lion’s growling. Thus, I’m prone to wonder, is the Psalmist describing what is arising from deep within each type of person? From the heart / depths of the righteous comes delight in the Lord. From the heart / depths of the godless comes plotting and rage. Same action, different source. Hmmm…when I mumble, where is it coming from?