There is a fun scene in the movie A Christmas Story where young Ralphie has finally received his secret decoder wheel after sending in the required amount of Ovaltine labels. This will help him decipher an important message from Little Orphan Annie that just might save the world! He works the decoder feverishly while locked in the bathroom. As the letters and words emerge, his sense of purpose grows with each turn of the dial. Finally the message appears!
“Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.”
It is a sadder and wiser Ralphie that slowly re-enters the world, having experienced his first bait-and-switch “crummy commercial.” How disappointing!
I must confess I feel this way every time I click onto what looks to be a good article and discover that it is flooded with advertisements that blink on and off like the Vegas strip at midnight. I clicked on a news article on the west coast wildfires and was instantly inundated with ads for Zulilly, Wayfair, and something called Bud Light Seltzer. Is that even a thing?
The neat thing about today’s Psalm is that it takes a kind of decoder ring to get the full message. It is one of eight alphabetic acrostic psalms in the Bible and there is possibly some hidden meaning not only in its content, but in its form.
Alphabetic acrostics go through the Hebrew alphabet with the first letter of the first word of each line in alphabetical order. The “secret message” of a psalm that goes from A to Z (or more correctly, Aleph to Taw) suggests a completeness and wholeness that points to our relationship with God. The secret message in its form says that with God we are UNBROKEN.
In more practical terms, a psalm written in alphabetic acrostic is also easier to memorize.
Keeping in mind that the decoded message is “You are complete and unbroken,” read this psalm and think about what is missing in your walk today that needs to be filled in so that you might feel whole.
Psalm 145 (Common English Bible)
I will lift you up high, my God, the true king.
I will bless your name forever and always.
2 I will bless you every day.
I will praise your name forever and always.
3 The Lord is great and so worthy of praise!
God’s greatness can’t be grasped.
Do you bless and praise God forever and always, or only on the good days?
4 One generation will praise your works to the next one,
proclaiming your mighty acts.
5 They will talk all about the glorious splendor of your majesty;
I will contemplate your wondrous works.
6 They will speak of the power of your awesome deeds;
I will declare your great accomplishments.
7 They will rave in celebration of your abundant goodness;
they will shout joyfully about your righteousness.
8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
very patient, and full of faithful love.
Remind yourself of this truth if you are feeling broken this morning.
9 The Lord is good to everyone and everything;
God’s compassion extends to all his handiwork!”
10 All that you have made gives thanks to you, Lord;
all your faithful ones bless you!
11 They speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they talk all about your power,
12 to inform all human beings about God’s power
and the majestic glory of God’s kingdom.
When you got up this morning, did you remember God’s compassion?
13 Your kingdom is a kingship that lasts forever;
your rule endures for all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all that he says,
faithful in all that he does.
14 The Lord supports all who fall down,
straightens up all who are bent low.
15 All eyes look to you, hoping,
and you give them their food right on time,
16 opening your hand
and satisfying the desire of every living thing.
And let us not forget that God provides!
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
faithful in all his deeds.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who calls out to him,
to all who call out to him sincerely.
19 God shows favor to those who honor him,
listening to their cries for help and saving them.
20 The Lord protects all who love him,
but he destroys every wicked person.
21 My mouth will proclaim the Lord’s praise,
and every living thing will bless God’s holy name
forever and always.
Make your day complete by contemplating these things. I know it’s long (all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet-long) but read it again. God will fill in your empty spaces with his presence and the glorious splendor of his majesty. From A to Z, God’s goodness is everlasting, and with him you are unbroken.