Sunday Sermon 11.21.20
I don’t like repeating myself.
Whether it’s from forty-three years in the classroom, or because I am impatient or because people aren’t good listeners; I really hate repeating what has already been said.
Of course there are qualifiers; some things need and must be restated, and some stories bring continued joy upon retelling.
Then there is the expressing of love. Expressing love bears repeating, right? Love is well worth repeating, and in fact, must be repeatedly expressed for a healthy relationship to continue growing.
Using those thoughts as our springboard, check out these repeated phrases:
” All you Israelites, trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the Lord – he is their help and shield.”Psalms 115:9-11
When recently reading these words, they jumped out to me. It was the repetition that stood out, they were repeated three times!
- “trust in the Lord” – repeated three times
- “he is their help and shield” – repeated three times
You can say that again, and again and again!
Why? Attention getting. Well, it got mine.
Then two chapters later, we find this repeated phrase:
“Let Israel say: “His love endures forever“. Let those of the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear him say: “His love endures forever.”Psalm 118:2-4
Again, the phrase was repeated three times.
- “His love endures forever” – repeated three times
You can say that again, too.
But wait, we’re not through! In the same chapter, there is another repeated phrase.
“All the nations surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.”Psalm 118:10-12
The repeated phrase –
- in the name of the Lord I cut them down – repeated three times
That is alot of repetition! Is the Lord trying to help me deal with my dislike of repetition, or is there a bigger picture and message here? (Probably both.)
Here we have three passages, with at least one phrase repeated three times; and in one case, two phrases repeated three times.
That’s alot of threes!
O, The power of three.
Did you know that there is actually “a rule of three”? Not the rule of thirds as in photography, but rule of three. It suggests that words grouped together into threes are more appealing and easier to remember.
Because our brains are pattern seeking machines, they are constantly looking for meaning in all that is around us and seek to help us make sense of it and and remember what we can. Three is the smallest number we need to create a pattern and is the perfect combination of rhythm and brevity.
Research supports this and further tells us that speeches, ads and other messages that are designed with three claims will persuade, but four or more will trigger scepticism. Cool right?
Speech writers use the rule of three, we use it in conversation, listening for that list of three, as well as in our writing. (I just used it… he he)
Here are some examples that you are probably familiar with:
- “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – Shakespeare
- “Government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Abraham Lincoln
- “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Declaration of Independence
- “Stop, look and listen.”
So, our brain likes chunks of information in threes for our short term memory. More than that requires alot more brain work.
In Biblical numerology three represents wholeness, completeness and perfection.
Whew… enough already.
What’s the point here? Three?
Nope. It is the fact that these simple, perfect and complete messages have been submitted to us three times, for our thought, growth and investigation.
Let’s go back to them:
- trust in the Lord
- he is their help and shield
- his love endures forever
- in the name of the Lord I cut them down
Each repeated three times for a reason.
Each repeated three times to help us remember. Each repeated three times to form a pattern for us. Each repeated three times to persuade us.
I am so encouraged by these phrases. You can say that again.
In the midst of my daily life, duties, and stresses I am reminded to trust in the Lord. Not myself, not my paycheck, not my understanding, and not the world system.
He is my help and shield, no matter what comes at me and my family. He will help me in every circumstance and he will provide a shield of protection to us as well.
There is nothing that can separate me from his love, no powers, forces, ideas, or laws because his love endures to me forever.
When I am faced with giant thoughts, fears, worries, stresses, jobs, events, or forces, it is in the name of the Lord that I cut them down to size. He helps me to balance, gain perspective and reduce those giants to size.
So, be encouraged today – trust the Lord because his love for you never ends, he is your help and shield, and he will help you cut your problems down to size.
Now that bears repeating!
In fact, you can say that again.
Go with God.