Devotions Based on Hymns from Glory to God and Their Scriptural Allusions
READ: Exodus 20:1-21
Yesterday our hymn and the scripture spoke to the power of the Spirit. Today’s hymn speaks more to the gentleness of the Spirit. Even the music’s refrain has a gentle rocking motion as compared to yesterday’s percussive pulse.
The scriptural allusion today is God’s giving of the Law to the people. Although some may regard the giving of the Ten Commandments as placing a burden on the people, the law was really God’s gift to the people for ordering their lives. The law had commandments (one through four) for the ordering of the people’s life with Commandments (five through ten) were for the ordering of people’s lives with each other.
If I recall correctly from seminary, the great Reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, viewed God’s law as a gift differently. When placing the reading of the Law in worship, Martin Luther placed it before a prayer of confession to point out people’s sins. On the other hand, John Calvin placed the reading of the Law after the prayer of confession and assurance of pardon, viewing obedience to the Law as the people’s appropriate response to God’s mercy and grace.
The allusion to the giving of the Law is found in verse 2.
“You swept through the desert and stung with the sand; and You goaded Your people with a law and a land. When they were confounded with idols and lies, then You spoke through Your prophets to open their lives.”
Verses 1 through 3 focus on God’s activity in the past, while verse 4 speaks of the activity of the Spirit now and in the future.
Then the refrain follows:
“Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free. Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.”
O God, You do work in mysterious ways! We see this in the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can work powerfully or gently and the reactions of Your people can likewise be quite different. Help us to be attentive and responsive to the Spirit’s leading. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.