Why King David Taught Through Psalms / Songs

roniMusic is an essential part of the life of nearly every culture on earth. The first thing a baby hears in the womb is the rhythm of their mother’s heartbeat, then as children grow they respond to lullabies and rhymes. In every form of celebration and life event we have music; from Christmas carols, to the birthday song, to funerals. Melody is part of the way we learn about and relate to our culture and it helps us to feel part of our community, as it reinforces our values and identity. Is it any wonder then, that many spiritual principles in the Bible were communicated through the Psalms, which were sung?

The first Psalm song was written not by David, but by Moses as a song of joy, when God had delivered Israel from Egypt.

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD:
“I will sing to the LORD,
for He has triumphed gloriously;
He has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise Him—
my Father’s God, and I will exalt Him!
The LORD is a warrior;
Yahweh is His Name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
He has hurled into the sea.
The finest of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters gushed over them;
they sank to the bottom like a stone…” Exodus 15

That song is still sung as a testimony of God’s love, power and deliverance, today. I first learned a version of it in church twenty years ago.

The second Psalm Moses wrote was on God’s instruction. It’s purpose was sad.

“The LORD said to Moses, “You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon Me and break My covenant that I have made with them. Then My anger will blaze forth against them. I will abandon them, hiding My Face from them, and they will be devoured. Terrible trouble will come down on them, and on that day they will say, ‘These disasters have come down on us because God is no longer among us!’ At that time I will hide My Face from them on account of all the evil they commit by worshiping other gods.

So write down the words of this song, and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them learn it, so it may serve as a witness for Me against them…” So that very day Moses wrote down the words of the song and taught it to the Israelites.” (Deuteronomy chapters 31-32 contain the song.)

These Psalms built on a wider cultural tradition which started centuries before Abraham lived in Mesopotamia, and which probably reaches back to the dawn of mankind. There are a number of pagan hymns to gods such as Ishtar, which have been found in the Mesopotamian area (modern Iraq.) Some use similar literary devices and strength imagery that David used in the Psalms, which further shows that the Israelites were connected to and influenced by a larger cultural community which thrived on music, as we do today.

Regardless of which time period you live in, it is normal for spiritual activities to be accompanied by music, which build a unified spiritual community and teach devotees their core ideas and values. David followed Moses in using this powerful medium, not just because it was the way things were done and because he liked music, but also as King David knew the impact it had upon people.  The introduction to Psalm 60 says, “… A psalm of David useful for teaching, regarding the time David fought Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah…” Psalms enabled David to *teach the people his testimony of God’s deliverance, reiterate the history of Israel and remind them of the principles of God’s Laws which were handed down through Moses.  [Ref. Psalms 114 and 132]

Consider these factors which make music an effective teaching method:

  • A catchy tune will be remembered and enables messages from a leader to be passed on across any distance.
  • Every age is open to hearing and learning musically. Small children will remember and repeat lyrics whether they understand the message or not. There is no age where enjoying music stops.
  • Popular tunes survive time, no matter what circumstances change.
  • Agrarian lives make study impractical as labourers work from dawn to dusk to survive; include literacy issues and singing becomes more effective than reading.
  • If you learn a song, if your house burns down, war comes, or some other calamity arises, you haven’t lost a book.

David has not only taught me how to worship through his Psalms, he has been a strong foundational teacher of who and how wonderful God is. The Psalms pick me up in hard times, as they remind me of God’s faithfulness and delivering power; and in times of joy, they accompany how good I feel. Take the time to learn them and you’ll never be short of the power of God’s Word in your life.
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Notes:

* In ages past, the Psalms themselves were sung in church and officials, such as Bishops, were not allowed to take office unless they knew the Psalms by heart. If you know the Psalms, you know all about God, His nature, His plan for His people and have a solid moral compass in life. It saddened me to learn that this was replaced in the church by the Book of Common Prayer, forcing the Psalms into a backseat which reduced their powerful role.

Psalms where David is clearly teaching include 36,37,53 and 119.

I have heard it stated that the first music was only used for spiritual purposes, and I have tried to research that claim and found it inconclusive. It seems illogical to me, that something which brings us so much enjoyment would only be used in such a limited manner; though I am open to being corrected. The precious can be sacred.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

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Discovering David’s Most Important Task as King

img_1828Years ago I was having dinner with a friend when she told me that she had Jewish blood in the family. My instant reaction was, “you are so lucky!” Why? Because I knew that the Jewish people were God’s *”chosen ones.” Out of all the nations, the Lord chose Abraham and then his descendants, to be the Lord’s holy, special people. I was a Christian, but I didn’t have that same status and to me, it was a far greater privilege than merely being “grafted into the vine.” [Ref. Romans 11]

As I am an adoptee, several years ago I had my DNA tested and I discovered, to my absolute delight, that my mother’s side of the family is Jewish. Beyond my wildest dreams, I too, was a “chosen one.” I am comforted by being connected to something so ancient and precious, but there was a point where I stopped and realised that being a “chosen one” isn’t any more special than being a “grafted in” Christian. What my spirituality comes down to is that I belong to Jesus. He is all I have known for thirty-five years, and all I want. Nothing I have as a Jew is as precious as my relationship with Him.

I fell down the rabbit hole of Youtube last week, and was watching a Buzzfeed **video on “11 Things Your Jewish Friends Just Get,” when they flashed up an odd title graphic: “signs your friend is a chosen one.” The social label surprised me as a statement made in Deuteronomy looked so out of place in the secular world. The surprise made me take the time to rethink about what it means to be a “chosen one.”

In Understanding the ***Old Testament, Dr Paul House says: “He has chosen Israel to be His people so that they might bless the other nations. They are not chosen so that they can have special privileges and do as they wish. They are chosen to minister to the rest of the world.” From that my mind went straight to this Scripture: “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Luke 12:48b With status comes responsibilities, and looking at that verse in context reminded me of David.

In Luke 12, Jesus was talking about no one knowing when He will return and how we must be ready, but in verse 42, He makes a statement that also outlines the duties of a godly King. “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing His other household servants and feeding them…” Regardless of David’s status as King, he was God’s servant. A quick search of “My servant, David” on Bible Hub brings up fifteen places where God has spoken of David that way. God never calls David by his worldly title. Whatever status Isra’el gave their Kings, the Great Master kept the office of King in perspective.

Dr House’s words helped me to realise that David’s chief role as King was to make God known, both to his people and also to the surrounding nations. Regardless of the national security needs of the nation, which laws needed reinforcing, what civil works needed to be completed, or what other diplomatic and administrative duties he had, first and foremost, as King he was the spiritual leader and had the responsibility of “managing [God’s] other household servants and feeding them” the Word of God. A righteous, obedient King would keep Isra’el on the right track with God, so that He could bless His chosen people so much, the other nations would look at their success in envy, and want to know who their God was.

2016-01-14_13-22-02_01God blessed David to a degree that put him in the perfect place to be a witness to other nations. As Dr House’s also said “…he has a capital city, he has military might, and there is a religious centre for Israelite worship. Each of these achievements helps make him the undisputed authority in the land. For now Israel’s’ nagging long term problems of poor military, poor organisation and scattered religious rites have been solved. Because they have a good leader they follow Yahweh and defeat their enemies. No ruler since Joshua has done so much for the people.” The other nations had to have seen this and wanted to know the secrets of such success.

“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not hidden Your loving-kindness and Your truth from the great congregation.” Psalm 40:10

David’s chief task was the same one that we all have as Christians: God blesses us so we know His love, saving power and grace, which we then pass onto others who are lost, or struggling. It doesn’t matter whether you are a “chosen one” or not, we have all been blessed with much and much is expected.
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Notes:
*”The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honour; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:18-19

**Buzzfeed Video Link: https://youtu.be/uNIcRwcNqos

***Understanding the Old Testament by Dr Paul House, biblicaltraining.org Available free from: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/understanding-old-testament/paul-house

To understand the central role that Isra’el had during David’s reign, please also read What You Need to Know About Isra’el in David’s Time: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=34218


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Coping When You’re Persecuted for Your Faith

The album cover's copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

The album cover’s copyright belongs to David Meece, the artist and his record label.

When I was a teenager, David Meece had a popular song titled “Count the Cost.” The chorus lyrics are:

“You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to know that the price
Is the one you can afford.
You’ve gotta count the cost
If you’re going to be a believer,
You’ve got to go all the way
If you really love the Lord…”

I believe that King David would have related to that song very strongly!

One of the things that surprised me when going through the Psalms, was the number of times that King David spoke about being persecuted for his faith. In the midst of the Psalms which speak of persecution by Saul, problems with his children and the threats of other kings, were verses that I had never noticed before.

David didn’t just give the people the gift of the Psalms and how to worship God in holiness, he also taught them the Torah (Word of God) and was persecuted for it. Spiritual leadership is considered to be one of the functions of an Israeli King, which is why kings were so powerful in leading people spiritually astray. David had a huge heart for his people’s spiritual walk, and put up with a lot of fierce payback, for speaking out about God.

Many of the Psalms in which David pleads for God to deal with his enemies justly, don’t only refer to David’s need to keep his throne and be safe. For David, as he was God’s anointed king, for him to be deposed would be for God’s will to be thwarted. For David to lose his throne early, would be for him not to have completed the Lord’s full purpose for his life. Thus it is acceptable that he should call down God’s judgement. An example of this is Psalm 17, a prayer of David.

Psalm 22:6 describes the ridicule David experienced because of his faith:
“But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him!
If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!” “

Later the Psalm goes on to say:
“O LORD, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!
Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.
Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.
I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.
Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!”

Being a king is a perilous business. Everyone wants your land, your people as slaves, your livestock, your property and any other wealth you possess. Being a king who has open faith and acts as a spiritual leader, is an even harder task, but David was willing to do it.
“Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.” Psalm 9:14

This is perhaps why, despite his sins, many of us stand up publicly as supporters of King David. We relate to his pain, as in many ways, it describes our own and we are encouraged out of our mess by his words; but we can also see the odds he was up against. The Psalms are full of David crying out to God, needing help which never seemed to come when he felt it was so sorely needed.

People like to cheer on the underdog and David, is often considered to be one. For all his military prowess, he lived a life which was appallingly hard: he dealt with many dangers from enemies, plus his own family; steered the people through famine… and then to have his own people, of his own faith, mock him when he relied on God for assistance? It’s heart breaking. Especially with his testimonies of how many times the Lord had delivered him out of trouble. Any of us in the same position would be left feeling abandoned, misunderstood and deeply hurt.

Yet with David, one thing never changed. He always expected the Lord to deliver him and the Lord did. David died aged seventy from disease. Two years earlier, he’d had the joy of seeing his son, Solomon, take the throne. Despite the odds, He Who has the Greatest Might saved his beloved son from all harm and honoured him as king. That honour continues, even today and into the future. From what other heart could the Messiah come, than from that of such a faithful servant?

Note: Scriptures which include David’s encouragement for others to praise God are many, but include Psalms 29:1-2, 32:11 and 66:1-4, which is considered to be David’s because of the style.


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Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

How King David Would Want To Be Remembered

There is a simple answer to this question – David would want his life to do one thing: point the way to God.

Unlike his son, Absalom, King David never built a monument to himself. [2 Samuel 18:18 despite 2 Samuel 14:27] He never asked that the temple be named after him, or for Solomon to have a plaque installed on the wall with his name on it. He did not leave behind golden, ostentatious palaces, as his son Solomon did [1 Kings 10:21]; neither did he build himself an impressive funerary monument as the Egyptian kings did. Instead, this is what we hear David saying in his old age.

“My life is an example to many,
because You have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising You;
I declare Your glory all day long…

But I will keep on hoping for Your help;
I will praise You more and more.
I will tell everyone about Your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim Your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.
I will praise Your mighty deeds, O Sovereign LORD.
I will tell everyone that You alone are just.
O God, You have taught me from my earliest childhood,
and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things You do.
Now that I am old and grey,
do not abandon me, O God.

Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,
Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.
Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.
You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with You, O God?

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,
but You will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honour
and comfort me once again.
Then I will praise You with music on the harp,
because You are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to You with a lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy and sing Your praises,
for You have ransomed me.
I will tell about Your righteous deeds
all day long,
for everyone who tried to hurt me
has been shamed and humiliated.” Psalm 71:7-8, then 14-24

In his last words (below), David focusses not on his military prowess, or his leadership achievements, instead he states the blessing that the Lord has bestowed upon him.** This is typical of David. When he talked about his achievements, it was always alongside what God had done; and despite the extensive suffering and loss he had been through, there was no bitterness, complaint, or resentment present.

David’s Last Words
These are the last words of David:
David, the son of Jesse, speaks:
David, the man who was raised up so high,
David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
David, the sweet psalmist of Isra’el.

“The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me;
His words are upon my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The one who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning at sunrise,
like a morning without clouds,
like the gleaming of the sun
on new grass after rain.’
“Is it not my family God has chosen?
Yes, He has made an everlasting covenant with me.
His agreement is arranged and guaranteed in every detail.
He will ensure my safety and success.
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away,
for they tear the hand that touches them.
One must use iron tools to chop them down;
they will be totally consumed by fire.” 1 Samuel 23

In 2 Samuel 22, he gives a greater list of what has happened in his life, and note that the glory always goes back to God. For example:
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
He is my refuge, my Saviour,
the One who saves me from violence.
I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and He saved me from my enemies.”
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Notes: ** If it seems egotistical in some ways, remember that David lived in a shame/honour culture, where a king who has been shamed is discredited and thrown out of office by his people, so culturally, it is necessary to state how he is honourable and honoured. However, David wrote much more extolling the glory of the Lord. Please see my master list of verses which demonstrate David’s humility. https://www.facebook.com/notes/from-despair-to-deliverance/verses-which-demonstrate-davids-humility/1213522105331651


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I See Your Wonders and Stand Amazed

272168-cm-life-glasshouse-650-plugRecently we visited a small town in the hinterlands which sits at the highest altitude I think I have ever been at. It was a rainy day, which ordinarily would have ruined the trip, but amazingly, I found myself above and in cloud level and it became a day of delighted astonishment. Outside of a plane, this has never happened to me.

We sat at the edge of the mountain and watched the clouds move over the coast and up towards us, then we were in them and they were around us. It was patchy cloud. Looking beside where we sat, we could see a small patch of cloud that actually looked like a cloud, not mist or fog. Later, we had to walk through it to leave, then when we retrieved our car from the carpark under the restaurant, there was another cloud behind the car.

This was a concrete car park, open on one side. There was a cloud in it. Mind blown! A lady in the gift shop was telling us that at that altitude, if she doesn’t close the doors to her house, the clouds just waft in.

I look at Psalm 19 and always think of the night sky, but this trip had me looking at that Scripture through new eyes.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.”

Whether it’s night or day, the wonders of the Lord prove His Presence and perfect Workmanship still.


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

You Put A Smile On God’s Face

20150109_105702I’ve been through some really hard times over the past few years with serious health issues, financial pressures, losing a job I truly loved and the various other rigours life puts us through. One day I felt so low, I went into our local Christian bookshop for comfort. I’d been in there before and felt the presence of God. I made a special trip there that day, as all I wanted was to be near my Dad!

God did something really special. As soon as I went through the door, I had a really strong feeling in my heart, that God’s face lit up in a huge smile.

For many years God has placed burdens on my heart to uphold others in prayer. Countless times I have been woken in the night to pray for people, or I feel Him tugging at my sleeve during the day to ask me to pray. Quite often He wants me to pray immediately. When we have a need He responds THEN. We aren’t scheduled or stuck on hold in some kind of queue. Whether we can see or feel it or not, His attention to how we are feeling and His overwhelming love for us means we get absolute immediate attention, one hundred percent of the time: totally without fail.

Learning that has changed my life. I have gone from being a Christian who sat in church depressed and hopeless, to someone who knows that if God will disturb my day or my sleep for someone else, He will do the same for me. We are all loved equally. I too am the sheep He would turn the planet upside down to look for when lost. I am the one He wants to pull under His protective wings and keep safe. I am loved so much, when I seek Him for any reason, He smiles, as He wants to be with me too.

So all of us being equally loved: yes we are! You also put a smile on God’s face. Every time you think of Him, want to be with Him, or do anything which shows that you have a love in your heart for your Father, He smiles. You make Him happy. You too put a smile on God’s face.


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The Resolutions of a King ~ #Bible #psalm #Christian

2016nyres2

I was reading a list of suggested New Year Resolutions for the Pope, last week. While the list (which was not written by either the Pope, or the Vatican), had some great suggestions, it had me thinking about what David would list as his resolutions. The first five may not be very surprising, but after that, some are unexpected.

The cross references to the resolutions is separate, so the resolutions are in David’s own voice. Psalm 101 is included below, as it was the source of the idea. I have added additional clarification of the wording.

God bless you all.

The Resolutions:

  1. Praise the Lord at all times.
  2. Boast only in the Lord, and glorify His Name, not my own.
  3. Pray in the morning and the evening, especially when things get rough.
  4. Meditate on the Word of God, and His goodness.
  5. Wait patiently for God’s help and hope only in Him.
  6. Be strong and courageous.
  7. Work to make what I say and what I think, pleasing to the Lord.
  8. Fulfil my promises to God.
  9. Spend my time around Godly people.
  10. Manage my anger.
  11. Tell people about God.
  12. Act in a godly way within my own home, so I have no guilt in my heart.

 

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References to match the resolutions:
  1. Psalms 56:10, 31:7, 34:1
  2. Psalms 34:2, 86:13
  3. Psalm 55:16-17
  4. Psalm 63:6
  5. Psalms 22:14, 62:1-2 and 5-6, 37:7 39:7, 52:9b
  6. Psalm 27:14
  7. Psalms 19:14, 101:3
  8. Psalms 22:25, 61:8
  9. Psalms 16:3, 101:4-7 – not the worthless, wicked or evil.
  10. Psalms 4:4-5, 37:8
  11. Psalms 40:9-10, 51:12-13, 71:15
  12. Psalm 101:2
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Psalm 101:  A Psalm of David

I will sing of your love and justice;
 to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life:
 when will you come to me?
 I will conduct the affairs of my house
 with a *blameless heart.                    (*integrity, perfect)
I will not look with approval
 on anything that is *vile.                  (*evil, wicked, base)
 I hate what *faithless people do;           (*those who fall away or turn away from God)
 I will have no part in it.                  (won't cleave to)
The *perverse of heart shall be far from me; (*devious, perverted, evil, fraudulent)
 I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
Whoever slanders their neighbour in secret,
 I will put to silence;
 whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
 I will not tolerate.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
 that they may dwell with me;
 the one whose walk is blameless
 will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit
 will dwell in my house;
 no one who speaks falsely
 will stand in my presence.
Every morning I will put to silence
 all the wicked in the land;
 I will cut off every evildoer
 from the city of the Lord.                      New Living Translation


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