Playing Favorites

Message Title: Playing Favorites
Theme: Psalms and Songs: songs from 1960’s music with similar feelings to psalms
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18;
Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:40-42
RCL Scripture: Genesis 22:1-14; Psalm 13; Jeremiah 28:5-9; Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:40-42
Focus: This psalm is a psalm of praise for the God that chose David to be king.
Function: To know God doesn’t play favorites and to treat each other equally.
Other Notes: Everyday People By Sly and the Family Stone

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 10:40-42 40 “Those who receive you are also receiving me, and those who receive me are receiving the one who sent me. 41 Those who receive a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Those who receive a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 I assure you that everybody who gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones because they are my disciples will certainly be rewarded.”

LORD’S PRAYER

SONG’S OF THE 60’S: Our final song for the month of June is a popular one but unique. Sly Stone wrote the song Everyday People and it was performed by Sly and the Stone Family the second integrated band. This song was beautiful for many reasons: an integrated band, singing lyrics together about race equality in a beautiful way. (They also released the song with a new music video)

SONG:

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in

I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a blue one who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

Oh sha sha we got to live together

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in

I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a long hair that doesn’t like the short hair
For bein’ such a rich one that will not help the poor one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

Oh sha sha we got to live together

There is a yellow one that won’t accept the black one
That won’t accept the red one that won’t accept the white one
And different strokes for different folks
And so on and so on and scooby dooby doo

I am everyday people

The chorus of the song says “I am everyday people,” each person in the band got to share their voice when recording. The chorus was a symbol of equality in music and in life.

TRANSITION:  However, in our text for today, we don’t see equality. We hear the psalmist refer to David as God’s chosen one. Does God play favorites? Am I one of them? Let’s see what we can find out.

If you have five minutes to yourself, you can sit down and read all 52 verses. But for now we’ll focus on these few. We will be reading from the CEB.

GOD: Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18

I will sing of the Lord’s loyal love forever. I will proclaim your faithfulness with my own mouth from one generation to the next. 2That’s why I say, “Your loyal love is rightly built—forever! You establish your faithfulness in heaven.” 3You said, “I made a covenant with my chosen one; I promised my servant David: 4‘I will establish your offspring forever; I will build up your throne from one generation to the next.’” Selah

15The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy! They walk in the light of your presence, Lord! 16They rejoice in your name all day long and are uplifted by your righteousness 17because you are the splendor of their strength. By your favor you make us strong 18because our shield is the Lord’s own; our king belongs to the holy one of Israel!

Explanation:

  1. Who is this guy!?! “Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite”
    1. In the heading of Psalm 89, the Psalmist is named Ethan. All we know about Ethan is that he was wise but King Solomon was wiser and that he likely was a temple musician. (1 kings 4:31; 1 Chronicles 15: 17, 19) Ethan writes this Psalm to praise the God who picked David & his family to be kings of Israel.
  2. In the brief section of Psalm 89 that we read today, we see that David is called the Chosen one and God promises his offspring will reign forever.
    1. “Chosen one”
      1. Does God play favorites?
      2. ‘I will establish your offspring forever’
    2. But that doesn’t actually happen, eventually the line of David breaks. By Jesus’ time a king is on the throne but its not a Davidic one and it is also not one the people chose, instead King Herod is king because he’s friends with Rome.
  3. In this moment we see the people celebrating the king. It seems that David is the God-ordained plan. And that God’s kings cannot make mistakes. The people benefit from a king chosen by God.
    1. ‘The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy!’
      1. They walk
      2. They rejoice
      3. Are uplifted
      4. Made strong
    2. ‘because our shield is the Lord’s own;’

Interpretation:

  1. Some people believe that God ordains our leaders. God picks them and they don’t make mistakes. What is ironic is that a king wasn’t the original plan.
  2. God originally planned during the Garden for humans to co-rule with God. Humans would have God’s authority on this earth and God would guide the humans. But over time the people of God were not satisfied with that structure. They requested, no they demanded, a king in 1 Samuel 8:6-9
  3. God, through Samuel, warns the people what kings do:
    1. 1 Samuel 8: 10-18 – Kings suck. They take your stuff. They take your kids. They take you. And when you ask God for help, God says…. Um you chose this dude….
    2. And still they said “We want a king! We want a king!”
  4. Kings were not the plan. Humans were not supposed to be a hierarchy. Kings were bound to fail. In fact, kings royally failed (pun intended hahaha). If you look at the line-up of kings from that point forward, they all made giant mistakes….well except maybe King Josiah who was a king at 8 years old and provided a religious revival… but other than him all the kings fail in one way or another. Yes, even David who is being praised in this psalm.
    1. David was a murderer and a rapist. Whooooo Chosen one!
  5. Last week we heard how our emotions don’t dictate God’s actions. This week we see that God allows us to make decisions for ourselves. God allows us to chose king… rulers… and reap the consequences of our own decisions. This is the path we (humans) chose.
    1. I feel like the psalm has missed meaning, if we don’t know the background of Israel & kings.

Application: Everyday People

Function: To know God doesn’t play favorites and to treat each other equally.

  1. Follow me on this train of thought for a moment:
    1. A chosen king must lead a chosen people.
    2. A chosen people must mean God’s got favorites.
    3. I’m the favorite and you aren’t the favorite.
    4. You are not good because you aren’t the favorite.
    5. You are bad.
    6. I can treat you bad because I’m the favorite.
  2. God’s plan wasn’t for a king. God’s plan was for a relationship.
    1. God’s plan wasn’t for a divided creation.
    2. Over and over again in scripture God’s goals sound more like the goals of Sly Stone than the words of Ethan the Ezarite. Now that doesn’t mean Ethan’s words are wrong. Our emotions don’t define God’s will or actions. Ethan could have come to the conclusion of praise based on observing King David or his son Solomon. But that doesn’t mean David, Solomon, or any other king is endorsed by God and infallible.
    3. Kings don’t define our actions, God does.
    4. God’s intention for creation was that of community, not division.
  3. What ways could our perspective be preventing unity?
    1. Are we being humble and teachable so that God can show us avenues for healing?
    2. Are we willing to change our actions or perspectives to bring about healing & unity?
  4. To be honest, Everyday People reminds me of Langston Hughes poem: I, Too, Am America.
    1. Read this poem

CONCLUSION: We are not in the 1960’s any longer, it’s 2020, but we are still struggling with the same divisions. It seems that divisions are a natural way of life but that doesn’t mean that was the way God intended things to be. God didn’t intend us to have a king nor did God intend us toa be playing the favorites game.

When we recognize that God doesn’t play favorites and leaders aren’t fool proof or divinely appointed, we may be able to see a different view of how this world could be. We could be agents of equality. Step one: see God in every face we meet.

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