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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Today’s Reading | Psalm 31:1–5

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
     do not let me ever be put to shame;
     in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
     rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
     a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
     for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
     for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
     you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. (NRSV)


At first, I thought these verses reflected only the writer’s request that God keep the writer on a path of righteousness and provide shelter and protection from the writer’s own actions as well as the “traps” others may lay for him. It’s an understandable request, one I suspect all of us have made at one time or another. Going back over it, however, I found that the third verse put it all in perspective.

The writer is not asking for these things to serve his own interests. Rather, the writer is asking “for the sake of your name”—i.e., his request is motivated by a desire to serve God’s ends. That is, of course, what all of us aspire to do, but I wonder if the writer overlooks the possibility that God, I believe, sometimes has us serve his ends by allowing us to act in ways that bring us shame or fall into others’ traps. It is said that you learn more from a loss than a victory, and I think God sometimes allows us to falter in order to deepen our (and others’) understanding of his lessons. It is important to keep that aspect of God’s teaching in mind so that when things turn south on us, whether by our own hand or that of another, we can find some comfort in knowing that God is with us even in difficult times.


Heavenly Father, help me to avoid self-inflicted wounds and the traps others may lay, and in difficult times, help me to remember that being in your service sometimes also involves trials I would prefer to avoid but that there are valuable lessons in those trials for me and for others. In your name I pray. Amen.

Written by Joe Jeffery, member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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