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A Mari Usque Ad Mare

July 1, 2008
canada-ca.jpgWith it being Canada Day, I couldn’t help but pull out my bible and read Psalm 72 (see below for full text). That’s the psalm that Canada takes it’s motto from – A Mari Usque Ad Mare -- “From Sea to Sea” (72:8). From what I understand, the use of the word dominion in that particular verse was an influence in its selection, as after confederation Canada was known as the Dominion of Canada (hence July 1st being called Dominion Day, up until the early 1980s).
History lesson aside, I thought one way I would celebrate Canada Day (other ways include generous servings of maple syrup and monitoring NHL free agency news) would be to read over Psalm 72 slowly, and thoughtfully, with the idea of our nation in the back of my mind.
The psalm is one of guidance and support for the King (or so my translation tells me!). When I read over this I read it in two ways. The first is the notion of an earthly king – and for our sake let’s consider not a king, but a government or civic authority, and even the responsibilities that we have as citizens to each other.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor! ...
For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
No immediate oppressors come to mind to be crushed (though we could probably use some relief from fuel prices), but this idea of taking care of the poor, of the needy, and valuing the preciousness of ‘blood’ (or life), offer an example of how we should not only conduct our lives, but what we should hold our leaders accountable to. Justice and righteousness are other traits that are echoed in this psalm. We should live as a just nation. A nation where we each serve other and are active in creating a community that is prosperous, generous, and values each of its members.
Besides this notion of an earthly authority, one can’t help but think of the divine authority of our Lord! If you read this Psalm with the Kingship of Jesus Christ in mind (which is difficult not to do!) then you have a beautiful hymn offering Christ glory and asking for His blessing upon this land.
May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!
May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed!
Blessed by the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed by his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!
We have so much. And it doesn't belong to us -- it's been given to us out of the goodness of the Lord. And how often have we thanked Him for it? Yes, there are obvious problems in our country -- the increased acceptance of the culture of death comes to mind (perhaps this is an oppressor that we pray to be freed from?) -- but we really are a blessed nation. We don't deserve all that has been given to us, but we have it, and we are stewards of it -- whether it be the natural richness of the land, the peace we have within our borders, the abundance of food that we have, and the list goes on and on.
My prayer then today is to take to heart the guidance offered in Psalm 72 and to give glory to God for all that has been given to us here, in His dominion, from sea to sea!
Happy Canada Day.
Psalm 72
Give the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor!
May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!
For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!
May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field!
May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!
May men bless themselves by him, all nations call him blessed!
Blessed by the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed by his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!
The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.
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