The Bread King Sat on His Holy Hill – John 6, Ps 132

2010 March 12

Filed in:

Do You Hear what I Hear? (Psalms)

The Feeding of the Five Thousand in John 6 is, in part, formed by emphases from the Psalms of Ascent, especially Ps 132, where the Messiah is the Bread King of giving to the poor.

I contend that the Psalms of Ascent were indeed used at times of pilgrimage to festival.  People give different explanations for their use, but one of the major views says that they were used on the way to the three annual festivals.

John’s gospel gives further reason to believe this, through two clues, the Lifting of Eyes, and the Bread King.

Looking Up

One thing characteristic of the Ascent is the lifting of eyes.

If these are pilgrim travelling songs for the ascent into the hills toward Zion, it would make sense that they should be lifting their eyes as they go up to Gods’ high place.

But only three places in all the Psalms talk of lifting eyes:

  • PS 121.1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
  • PS 123.1 To you I lift up my eyes,  O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
  • PS 131.1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me

These are all Psalms of Ascent.

In John 6.4-5, we hear:

Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said…

Jesus lifts his eyes, and sees the crowd.  They are following him because he does famous miracles.  But there are so many present, precisely because it is the season for pilgrimage.  And if these pilgrims are singing, then the Psalms of Ascent would be what is on their minds and is in their hearts.

Maybe they had heard Ps 132 right before they got to the blessing of bread from David’s son.

The Bread King:

Ps 132, a Psalm of Ascent, talks about the blessing that will come from the coming king, the Christ, (anointed one) who will rise up from David’s  line of sons.  He will give bread to the poor.  David was the one who brought the ark home, he found it in a field, and returned it to its resting place.  David was seated there on his throne, the ark is the footstool of God’s throne.  Here’s the Psalm with keys underlined, and then look at the explanation of John 6 after:

1Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor,
all the hardships he endured,
2how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3“I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
4I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

6Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”

8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
9Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
10For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne
12If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne

13For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
17There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”

John 6.2-15, the Feeding of the Five Thousand is end capped by Jesus, the son of David “sitting on a mountain” (vv.3, 15)

He and the people sit (vv. 3, 10 twice, 11), and they come to a resting place in a field full of grass (v.10),

Because he gives them bread, they want to make him king (v.15).

Since so much of the Ascending Psalms are used for this event AT passover time, we may assume, the Psalms of Ascent were indeed part of the backdrop of Passover celebration.


Wasn’t the First Son of God

2009 November 24

Filed in:

The Bible is a Book of Tales (Narrative Theology)

Do You Hear What I Hear? (Psalms)


Compare Psalm 23 to the Exodus Narrative – what results do we yeild?

 1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 2He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
 3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
   for his name’s sake.

 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
   I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

 5You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
    forever.  (ESV)

The shepherd is being followed (he is leading) to a green land of still waters.  The Spirit leads the people past the moving waters of the Reed Sea and the Jordan to the still (that is, wells?) waters, like Jacob’s Well and the Seas of Canaan.

Even in the valley (figurative) between Sinai and Zion there is no fear, Aaron’s Staff, and the Rod of the Law are a comfort.

They were called to feast at the mountain, but their enemies would not let them away, so the LORD prepared a table in the presence of their enemies.

Their neighbors had a God-given favor and loaded them down with gold, silver and clothing… their cups overflowed.

I am not saying that the Psalm is written with this as the major emphasis, or away from the kingly motif of David on the run.  I am just saying that David wasn’t the first Son of God to be on the run from an evil king…Or the last (Ex 4.21-23, Hos 11.1, Mt 2.15).  So the pattern is present earlier, and is useful to our ears today.

The Wolf, The Lamb, and the Little Child [1]

2007 December 8

This is the 1st entry in a Series that walks through my Sermon preparation for Sunday (2007/12/09). If you want to read them in another order choose one of the following:

Entry [1]

Entry [3]

Entry [4]

Entry [5]


If anyone was reading recently, I was preparing a sermon for the 25th of November. I think my process and outline were going fairly well, but Saturday midday, my wife began to miscarry our child of a 12-week pregnancy. So I didn’t preach.

But I am set to preach soon – Advent 2.

Advent 2 is Peace.


I have actually decided to preach the BCP lectionary this time (This is Year A, and we are at the 2nd week of the Liturgical year – 2nd Advent as I said).

Here is the lectionary as the BCP sets it, slightly altered by either my rector or by myself:

Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 (edited by Fr. Steve)

Romans 15: 4-13

Matthew 3:1-12


My following entries will move through my thought process in working on the sermon, and will include bits of the reading at a time.

To move to a specific entry click on the listing: (if any link doesn’t work, then I haven’t written it yet).

Entry [2]

Entry [3]

Entry [4]

Entry [5]


Baby Number 3 – and Paedocommunion

2007 October 11

Welch Baby Number Three is on the way. We are in week four, so pray for stability. Fragility of the situation is characteristic of the first trimester. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on the question, when does faith begin, leading to the further question about infant communion:

I just want to point at some verses quickly, and I will take up the topic more in coming days.

Psalm 22.9-10 says:

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

Again, Psalm 71.5-6 relates these ideas to us:

For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

Further more, Ps 8.2 :

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

And the famous passage where “infants” are carried to Jesus for blessing, Mt 19.13-15:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.

[I say “infants” because that is what Luke says – confirmed somewhat by the idea that they were brought to him, instead of coming on their own. In Mark’s account, Jesus is indignant at the withholding of these infants from the blessing of their creator – and in all three accounts they, without age, are old enough to possess citizenship in the Kingdom. See the Luke and Mark passages.]


2007 March 8

I have been surprised this year as I have discovered a great hidden secret. The Psalms.

Everday in my classes we begin by reading an octet from Ps 119 (section Aleph, section Beth…etc), and then reading a portion or whole of another psalm. We are just moving straight through the psalms in Sequence. We have finished Ps 119 maybe four times this year.

I have learned a LOT from this exercise. Not only have I learned, but I have been moved and changed by the words of the Psalms. It ALMOST as if the words are ALIVE!!! =) j/k – of course they’re alive, but man I didn’t expect to be so gripped by them. I feel hard pressed to know how I lived without them as a normative part of my day for so long.