I’m halfway through the book of Psalms! Only seventy five to go! That’s a reason for celebrating. Time to raise a glass of wine. “For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, with foaming wine, well-mixed.” (8a RSV) Other translations have this as spiced wine “For a cup is in the Lord’s hand, full of spiced and foaming wine.” (NAB) One commentator refers to this spiced wine as a mixed drink, stating that “spice or drugs were put into wine to make it more intoxicating.” (notes, NAB St. Joseph Edition)
I’m familiar with God as a host at a great banquet with rich foods and fine wine, but God as a bartender pouring mixed drinks? That’s a new one for me!
But what is this spiced wine?
Psalm 75 is a communal hymn of thanksgiving to God who upholds the moral order; God who keeps the earth steady. “When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars.” (3)
The word horn is used four times throughout the psalm. In Scripture it can be a musical instrument used in worship or to call people to battle (Jos 6:5); it can be a drinking vessel, a symbol of power, or the “horn of Salvation,” (Lk. 1:69) referring to Christ.
In this psalm the wicked are boasting about their power, “I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high or speak with insolent neck.” (4-5) In response to this, they will lose this power, “All the horns of the wicked he will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.” (10)
Into this mix comes the reference to spiced wine. The wicked are forced to drink this cup, “And he will pour a draught from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” (8b). The wicked who raise the horn of pride and are drunk with power, are given the cup of God’s wrath, or the cup of humility, depending on the commentator.
The psalm is a reminder about the danger of false pride that puffs oneself up at the expense of others. This is a situation of the person who takes the first place at a banquet and is escorted to the rear, while the humble person in the back is brought forward. In this psalm the cup of humility is given to the proud and they are brought low, a common theme in Scripture.
But just as God’s word is a two-edged sword cutting both ways, the cup of humility cuts both ways. It takes away false pride and lifts up the humble. True humility isn’t self-abasement or burying your light under a bushel basket. Too many people, especially women, hide their gifts out of a false sense of humility. True humility acknowledges your gifts and uses them in service. True humility isn’t afraid to let others know what they have done, but acknowledges that all gifts come from God.
Pride goes before a fall, I am reminded. As I celebrate this small milestone, I remember, I still have a long way to go. It’s okay to stop and celebrate milestones on the path of life, but not to rest there too long. I’m still only half-way there. I can’t rest on my laurels and stop here. Nor can any of us while in this world. I need to keep going till the end. We need to keep going on as long as we have life. So celebrate, have a cup of God’s spiced wine, then get on with it!
Have you reached any milestones recently? I’d love to hear about them and celebrate with you!
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