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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Today’s Reading | Psalm 34

I will bless the Lord at all times;
     his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
     let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
     and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
     and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
     so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
     and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps
     around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
     happy are those who take refuge in him.
O fear the Lord, you his holy ones,
     for those who fear him have no want.
The young lions suffer want and hunger,
     but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
     I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life,
     and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
     and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
     seek peace, and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
     and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
     to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
     and rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
     and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
     but the Lord rescues them from them all.
He keeps all their bones;
     not one of them will be broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked,
     and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
     none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. (NRSV)


Reflection

Psalm 34 is set into context by the opening footnote, which says, “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.” That story, told in 1 Samuel 21, reveals David as a man who used deceit to preserve his own safety. What a contrast to read his words in Psalm 34, which point us to trusting in the Lord, crying out to the Lord in times of trouble, and being able to count on God for deliverance.

While David knows in his heart that God is faithful, that God will protect him, David seems to find it hard to resist acting on his own behalf to assure the outcome he wants. As I look at my own inclinations, I find that too often I am like David, unable to “let go and let God,” and instead want to micromanage to achieve the outcome I think will be best.

In this psalm, David reminds us—and himself, I think—of what we miss when we rely upon ourselves instead of our God. If we are willing to taste and see, God will be present for us in every situation. When we are brokenhearted, God will be close. God’s holy people will lack nothing, and the Lord’s ears will be attentive to our cry.

This psalm invites us to be in a relationship with God and to experience the security, the comfort, and the joy that comes when we seek the Lord. It is encouraging to me that as beautifully as David could describe God’s faithfulness that David too was inclined to try to manage things on his own. It reminds me that I, too, have much more to learn about taking refuge in God.


Prayer

Help me learn to stop, to listen, to wait, before I try to solve the challenges that come before me. Help me to know the comfort and peace that comes from counting upon you, Lord, to walk with me in my joys and sorrows. Amen.


Written by Kathi Bates, member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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