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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 19

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
   and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
   which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
   and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
   and its circuit to the end of them;
   and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
   reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
   making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
   rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
   enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
   enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
   and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
   in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
   do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
   and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
   be acceptable to you,
   O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (NRSV)

When David penned the words of Psalm 19 for the music leader, he was clearly having a good day—and he was definitely feeling close to God! It is impossible to miss his joy and enthusiasm. The poetry of David in the first six verses reflects how God’s faithfulness and majesty through nature were everywhere apparent to him. David then shifts in verse 7 to recount how wonderful the “book of the Lord” is, and how a relationship with God brings order, joy, and wisdom to our lives.

We know from the very human, and not always flattering, stories of David’s life that have come down to us in the Bible that David didn’t always live up to the aspirations he sets forth in Psalm 19 of living as though God’s word was his guide. I am grateful that we get to see David’s humanness in the Bible, because it reminds me that when I fail to do what God desires, when I don’t trust God, or when I ignore God and do what I think should be done, I am in good company with others who have also had those failures. 

On the day that he wrote Psalm 19, it seems that David was feeling especially close to God. I think that I am like many people in feeling that some days my reliance on God and my relationship with God are very close, while other days, through my words or actions or through surrounding circumstances, God feels much more distant. Those are days to read something like Psalm 19 and be reminded why a close relationship with God benefits my life in so many ways. David closes with a hope and aspiration we all might share: “I want everything that I say to make you happy.” It is what we desire with the best of our intentions, even when we sometimes fall short.

God, you have made yourself known to your people in the world you have created and in the stories of your people. Help me to recognize your presence, especially in the times when things are going well and I might want to think that is through my own ability. Amen.

Written by Kathi Bates, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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