The Psalm For The Lord's Baptism
Just like there are three Scripture lessons assigned for each Sunday of the church year, so there is a Psalm assigned as well. Unfortunately western liturgy makes no provision for its reading in worship. But we should be aware it is there and make use of it at least for private devotions. The Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 29 and it reads as follows:
A Psalm of David.
Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of God,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"
10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
While many sermons could be preached on this Psalm verses 3 and 7 are especially connected to Sunday's feast: The Baptism Of Our Lord. To understand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together we should remember that all Scripture is fulfilled in Christ and him crucified for us. As the Lord says in Luke 24:44 "All that is written about me in the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms had to be fulfilled."
With that understanding let us turn to verses 3 and 7 from the 29th Psalm.
3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. 7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
In order to make the connection, again let remember, that all Scripture is fulfilled in the crucified and resurrected Christ.
The voice of the Lord was indeed over the waters at Jesus' baptism. From Sunday's gospel we read, "Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'" (Luke 3:21-22).
It is this mighty, glorious, piercing divine voice that cuts through the darkness of the sin-filled world, our sin-encrusted minds, and that calls us from the darkness of death to the light of life in Christ. There is nothing more necessary for our salvation than the voice of the Lord, the Word of God! And what a Word it is.
A Word that confirms that Jesus is THE beloved Son of God and that all who are baptized into him, into his death (Sunday's epistle) are likewise sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom. What an inheritance we have, Beloved! One that brings us good cheer and peace in the midst of all our sorrows for we know that heaven is ours!
Moreover Jesus, who was anointed with the Holy Spirit, now anoints us with the same Spirit and with fire just as the Psalm says: "The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire," and just as John predicted in Luke 3:16 "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
It is the cleansing fire of divine love and power with which we are anointed in baptism. As we say in the catechism, "the Word of God in and with the water." Baptism is our birth right, our heavenly birth certificate if you will. Let us never sell it in order to buy a few morsels of earthly desire like Esau did.
Instead let us rejoice with all the church today that our Lord was baptized, and that by our baptism, we are cleansed of all sin, made beloved sons of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and made fit for heaven.