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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 71

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   a strong fortress, to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
   from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
   my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
   it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you.

I have been like a portent to many,
   but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
   and with your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
   do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me,
   and those who watch for my life consult together.
They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken,
   for there is no one to deliver.”

O God, do not be far from me;
   O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
   let those who seek to hurt me
   be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually,
   and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
   of your deeds of salvation all day long,
   though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
   I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
   and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
   O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might
   to all the generations to come.
Your power and your righteousness, O God,
   reach the high heavens.

You who have done great things,
   O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
   will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
   you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor,
   and comfort me once again.

I will also praise you with the harp
   for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
   O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you;
   my soul also, which you have rescued.
All day long my tongue will talk of your righteous help,
for those who tried to do me harm
   have been put to shame, and disgraced. (NRSV)       

Psalm 71 is a quintessential heart-tugger with its lyricism, dramatic language, and plaintive cries. The masterful imagery highlights truth, faith, loyalty, refuge, and salvation. The psalmist is speaking of the faithfulness many of are familiar with through our intimate relationships with wise, trusted, and perhaps even powerful confidantes. And in this case, the writer is communing with the most magnificent friend of all, God himself.

Psalm 71 suggests a word we don’t hear much in modern usage, the core biblical term of “steadfastness.” As I meditate upon the word, turning it over in my mind and in my mouth, I’m reminded of the countless times that God has rescued me from dangerous situations, both physically and emotionally. Like the aging psalmist, “from birth I have relied on you.” I’ve learned that God is always with us, always close by. I try to remember to ask for God’s help, not to take it for granted.

When the psalmist cries out, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation,” I feel especially thankful for the many opportunities I am given to share the love of God with my beloved children, stepchildren, and grandchildren.

This piece of writing takes the long view, an approach that is essential when you consider the myriad peaks and valleys of a modern life. It reminds us that our journey with God is the odyssey of a lifetime.

Heavenly Father, hear my prayer to assist me in remembering, always, that your love has accompanied my journey even prior to my arrival upon this earth. It is the one thing that never fails. Make me eternally grateful for that knowledge. Amen.

Written by Betsy Storm, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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